Hydroxylase enzymes of the vitamin D pathway: expression, function, and regulation

Annu Rev Nutr. 2002;22:139-66. doi: 10.1146/annurev.nutr.22.120501.150216. Epub 2002 Jan 4.


Vitamin D is a secosteroid that is metabolically activated and degraded through the actions of three cytochrome P450 hydroxylase enzymes. Bioactivation occurs through the sequential actions of cytochromes P450C25 and P450C1, resulting in synthesis of the pleiotropic hormone 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25VD), which regulates over 60 genes whose actions include those associated with calcium homeostasis and immune responses as well as cellular growth, differentiation, and apoptosis. Inactivation of 1,25VD occurs by C23/C24 oxidation pathways that are catalyzed by the multifunctional cytochrome P450C24 enzyme. Both P450C1 and P450C24 are highly regulated enzymes whose differential expression is controlled in response to numerous cellular modulatory agents such as parathyroid hormone (PTH), calcitonin, interferon gamma, calcium, phosphorus, and pituitary hormones as well as the secosteroid hormone 1,25VD. Most thoroughly studied at the molecular level are the actions of PTH to upregulate P450C1 gene expression and 1,25VD to induce the expression of P450C24. The regulatory action of PTH is mediated through the protein kinase A pathway and involves the phosphorylation of transcription factors that function at the proximal promoter of the P450C1 gene. The upregulation of P450C24 by 1,25VD has both a rapid nongenomic and a slower genomic component that are functionally linked. The rapid response involves protein kinase C and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways that direct the phosphorylation of nuclear transcription factors. The slower genomic actions are linked to the binding of 1,25VD to the vitamin D receptor (VDR) and the interaction of the VDR-1,25VD complex with its heterodimer partner retinoid-X-receptor and associated coactivators. The regulatory complex is assembled on vitamin D response elements in the proximal promoter of the P450C24 gene and functions to increase the transcription rate.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / metabolism*
  • Secosteroids / metabolism
  • Steroid Hydroxylases / metabolism
  • Steroid Hydroxylases / physiology
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / metabolism*
  • Vitamin D / physiology


  • Secosteroids
  • Vitamin D
  • 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases
  • Steroid Hydroxylases