© 2016 International Society of Nephrology Enlargement of kidney tubules is a common feature of multiple cystic kidney diseases in humans and mice. However, while some of these pathologies are characterized by cyst expansion and organ enlargement, in others, progressive interstitial fibrosis and kidney atrophy prevail. The Kif3a knockout mouse is an established non-orthologous mouse model of cystic kidney disease. Conditional inactivation of Kif3a in kidney tubular cells results in loss of primary cilia and rapid cyst growth. Conversely, loss of function of the gene GLIS2/NPHP7 causes progressive kidney atrophy, interstitial inflammatory infiltration, and fibrosis. Kif3a null tubular cells have unrestrained proliferation and reduced stabilization of p53 resulting in a loss of cell cycle arrest in the presence of DNA damage. In contrast, loss of Glis2 is associated with activation of checkpoint kinase 1, stabilization of p53, and induction of cell senescence. Interestingly, the cystic phenotype of Kif3a knockout mice is partially rescued by genetic ablation of Glis2 and pharmacological stabilization of p53. Thus, Kif3a is required for cell cycle regulation and the DNA damage response, whereas cell senescence is significantly enhanced in Glis2 null cells. Hence, cell senescence is a central feature in nephronophthisis type 7 and Kif3a is unexpectedly required for efficient DNA damage response and cell cycle arrest.