Lipid soluble vitamins in gene regulation

Biofactors. 1999;10(2-3):91-7. doi: 10.1002/biof.5520100202.


Vitamin A (retinol) and vitamin D are lipid soluble vitamins that are precursors of the nuclear hormones all-trans retinoic acid (RA) and 1alpha,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (VD) that bind with high affinity to their cognate nuclear receptors, referred to as retinoic acid receptor (RAR) and vitamin D receptor (VDR). Both types of nuclear receptors are structurally related and belong to the same subclass of the nuclear receptor superfamily, a large family of ligand-inducible transcription factors. Both RAR and VDR form heterodimers preferentially with the nuclear receptor for 9-cis RA, referred to as the retinoid X receptor (RXR), but functional RAR-VDR heterodimers have also been observed. Moreover, both types of nuclear receptors interact in a ligand-dependent fashion with members of the same class of co-activator, co-repressor and co-integrator proteins. These similar molecular mechanisms of action provide several possibilities for an interaction of RARs with VDR that are all based on allosteric protein-protein interactions. These interactions can result in either an additive or a transrepressive functional interference between RA and VD. The two remaining lipid soluble vitamins, vitamins E and K, are not known to interact with nuclear receptors, but their structure does not exclude this possibility. Moreover, for vitamin E modulatory effects on transcription factors, such as AP-1, have been described. This review will discuss briefly gene regulation by the four lipid soluble vitamins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcitriol / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / physiology*
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Retinoic Acid / metabolism
  • Receptors, Retinoic Acid / physiology*
  • Retinoid X Receptors
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Tretinoin / metabolism*


  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Receptors, Retinoic Acid
  • Retinoid X Receptors
  • Transcription Factors
  • Tretinoin
  • Calcitriol