Modulation of gene expression by vitamin B6

Nutr Res Rev. 2001 Dec;14(2):257-66. doi: 10.1079/NRR200125.


The physiologically active form of vitamin B6, pyridoxal 5'-phosphate (PLP), is known to function as a cofactor in many enzymic reactions in amino acid metabolism. Recent studies have shown that, apart from its role as a coenzyme, PLP acts as a modulator of steroid hormone receptor-mediated gene expression. Specifically, elevation of intracellular PLP leads to a decreased transcriptional response to glucocorticoid hormones, progesterone, androgens, and oestrogens. For example, the induction of cytosolic aspartate aminotransferase (cAspAT) in rat liver by hydrocortisone is suppressed by the administration of pyridoxine. The suppression of the cAspAT induction by pyridoxine is caused by a decrease in the expression of the cAspAT gene, which is brought about by inactivation of the binding activity of the glucocorticoid receptor to the glucocorticoid-responsive element in the regulatory region of the cAspAT gene. Vitamin B6 has recently been found to modulate gene expression not only for steroid hormone-responsive or PLP-dependent enzymes but also for steroid- and PLP-unrelated proteins such as serum albumin. Albumin gene expression was found to be modulated by vitamin B6 through a novel mechanism that involves inactivation of tissue-specific transcription factors, such as HNF-1 or C/EBP, by direct interaction with PLP in a similar manner to glucocorticoid receptor. Enhancement of albumin gene expression in the liver by an increased supply of amino acids can be explained by elevated binding of HNF-1 and C/EBP to their DNA-binding sites which, in turn, is caused by a decrease in the intracellular level of PLP by the increased amino acid supply. These findings that vitamin B6 acts as a physiological modulator of gene expression add a new dimension to the hitherto recognized function of vitamin B6 as a cofactor of enzyme action.