Imprinted Grb10, encoding growth factor receptor bound protein 10, regulates fetal growth independently of the insulin-like growth factor type 1 receptor (Igf1r) and insulin receptor (Insr) genes

Kim Moorwood, Florentia M. Smith, Alastair S. Garfield, Andrew Ward

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Optimal size at birth dictates perinatal survival and long-term risk of developing common disorders such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The imprinted Grb10 gene encodes a signalling adaptor protein capable of inhibiting receptor tyrosine kinases, including the insulin receptor (Insr) and insulin-like growth factor type 1 receptor (Igf1r). Grb10 restricts fetal growth such that Grb10 knockout (KO) mice are at birth some 25-35% larger than wild type. Using a mouse genetic approach, we test the widely held assumption that Grb10 influences growth through interaction with Igf1r, which has a highly conserved growth promoting role.

Should Grb10 interact with Igf1r to regulate growth Grb10:Igf1r double mutant mice should be indistinguishable from Igf1r KO single mutants, which are around half normal size at birth. Instead, Grb10:Igf1r double mutants were intermediate in size between Grb10 KO and Igf1r KO single mutants, indicating additive effects of the two signalling proteins having opposite actions in separate pathways. Some organs examined followed a similar pattern, though Grb10 KO neonates exhibited sparing of the brain and kidneys, whereas the influence of Igf1r extended to all organs. An interaction between Grb10 and Insr was similarly investigated. While there was no general evidence for a major interaction for fetal growth regulation, the liver was an exception. The liver in Grb10 KO mutants was disproportionately overgrown with evidence of excess lipid storage in hepatocytes, whereas Grb10:Insr double mutants were indistinguishable from Insr single mutants or wild types.

Grb10 acts largely independently of Igf1r or Insr to control fetal growth and has a more variable influence on individual organs. Only the disproportionate overgrowth and excess lipid storage seen in the Grb10 KO neonatal liver can be explained through an interaction between Grb10 and the Insr. Our findings are important for understanding how positive and negative influences on fetal growth dictate size and tissue proportions at birth.
Original languageEnglish
Article number127
JournalBMC Biology
Early online date30 May 2024
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2024

Data Availability Statement

All data generated or analysed during this study are included in this published article and its supplementary information files.

Mouse strains Grb10Δ2-4 (Grb10Gt(β-geo)1Ward) and Grb10ins7 (Grb10Gt(β-geo)2Ward) were generated in our laboratory from gene trap embryonic stem cell lines, as previously described [24, 25] and can be obtained from us. The Igf1r KO (B6.129-Igf1rtm1.2Mhz/Orl) mouse [46] was obtained from Martin Holzenberger and is available from the European Mouse Mutant Archive ( The Insr KO (Insrtm1Dac) strain [45]was obtained from Domenico Accili and is available from the Jackson Laboratory repository (

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