Epigenetic mechanisms play a crucial role in regulating gene expression. The main mechanisms involve methylation of DNA and covalent modifications of histones by methylation, acetylation, phosphorylation, or ubiquitination. The complex interplay of different epigenetic mechanisms is mediated by enzymes acting in the nucleus. Modifications in DNA methylation are performed mainly by DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs) and ten-eleven translocation (TET) proteins, while a plethora of enzymes, such as histone acetyltransferases (HATs), histone deacetylases (HDACs), histone methyltransferases (HMTs), and histone demethylases (HDMs) regulate covalent histone modifications. In many diseases, such as cancer, the epigenetic regulatory system is often disturbed. Vitamin D interacts with the epigenome on multiple levels. Firstly, critical genes in the vitamin D signaling system, such as those coding for vitamin D receptor (VDR) and the enzymes 25-hydroxylase (CYP2R1), 1α-hydroxylase (CYP27B1), and 24-hydroxylase (CYP24A1) have large CpG islands in their promoter regions and therefore can be silenced by DNA methylation. Secondly, VDR protein physically interacts with coactivator and corepressor proteins, which in turn are in contact with chromatin modifiers, such as HATs, HDACs, HMTs, and with chromatin remodelers. Thirdly, a number of genes encoding for chromatin modifiers and remodelers, such as HDMs of the Jumonji C (JmjC)-domain containing proteins and lysine-specific demethylase (LSD) families are primary targets of VDR and its ligands. Finally, there is evidence that certain VDR ligands have DNA demethylating effects. In this review we will discuss regulation of the vitamin D system by epigenetic modifications and how vitamin D contributes to the maintenance of the epigenome, and evaluate its impact in health and disease.
Keywords: 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3; CYP24A1; CYP27B1; CpG island; DNA methylation; VDR; VDRE; histone modifications.