Regulatory domains controlling high intestinal vitamin D receptor gene expression are conserved in mouse and human

J Biol Chem. 2022 Mar;298(3):101616. doi: 10.1016/j.jbc.2022.101616. Epub 2022 Jan 21.


Vitamin D receptor (VDR) levels are highest in the intestine where it mediates 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D-induced gene expression. However, the mechanisms controlling high intestinal VDR gene expression are unknown. Here, we used Assay for Transposase-Accessible Chromatin using Sequencing (ATAC-Seq) to identify the regulatory sites controlling intestine-specific Vdr gene expression in the small intestine (villi and crypts) and colon of developing, adult, and aged mice. We identified 17 ATAC peaks in a 125 kb region from intron 3 to -55.8 kb from exon 1 of the Vdr gene. Interestingly, many of these peaks were missing/reduced in the developing intestine. Chromatin ImmunoPrecipitation-Sequencing (ChIP-Seq) peaks for intestinal transcription factors (TFs) were present within the ATAC peaks and at HiChIP looping attachments that connected the ATAC/TF ChIP peaks to the transcription start site and CCCTF-binding factor sites at the borders of the Vdr gene regulatory domain. Intestine-specific regulatory sites were identified by comparing ATAC peaks to DNAse-Seq data from other tissues that revealed tissue-specific, evolutionary conserved, and species-specific peaks. Bioinformatics analysis of human DNAse-Seq peaks revealed polymorphisms that disrupt TF-binding sites. Our analysis shows that mouse intestinal Vdr gene regulation requires a complex interaction of multiple distal regulatory regions and is controlled by a combination of intestinal TFs. These intestinal regulatory sites are well conserved in humans suggesting that they may be key components of VDR regulation in both mouse and human intestines.

Keywords: colon; genomics; intestinal epithelium; small intestine; steroid hormone receptor; transcription; transcription enhancer; transcription factor; vitamin D; vitamin D receptor.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Deoxyribonucleases / genetics
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Intestines* / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Receptors, Calcitriol* / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Calcitriol* / genetics
  • Receptors, Calcitriol* / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Transcription Factors
  • VDR protein, human
  • Vdr protein, mouse
  • Deoxyribonucleases