Recent advances in the molecular biology of vitamin D action

Prog Nucleic Acid Res Mol Biol. 1996;53:321-44. doi: 10.1016/s0079-6603(08)60149-x.


Following the cloning and deletion analysis of the vitamin D receptor, most recent advances have been in the isolation and characterization of the DNA response elements found in the promoter region of target genes of vitamin D. Vitamin D, like the thyroid and retinoid hormones, binds to repeat sequences, but the repeats are separated by three nonspecified bases. The action of the VDR requires the presence of the RXR proteins and evidently other proteins that are involved in regulating transcriptions. A possible role of phosphorylation of the ligand binding domain of the VDR in transcription has also appeared. Very likely, the molecular events involved in vitamin D stimulation or suppression of a target gene will include its interaction with a number of transcription factors, both in the regulation of transcription and in the actual machinery involved in the transcription process through polymerase II. Although likely, it is not entirely clear whether the genomic action of vitamin D can account for all of its biological activities. Nongenomic actions of the vitamin D hormone have been reported, but convincing evidence that this is of biological importance in vivo is lacking. Advances in our understanding of the vitamin D mechanism of action can clearly be expected from physical studies of cloned and expressed vitamin D receptor and its subdomains, elucidation of the transcription factors in vitamin D-modulated transcription of target genes, elucidation of the role of phosphorylation in the transcription process, and the identification of important genes that are regulated in the specific target tissues responsive to vitamin D. This will definitely remain as a very active field of investigation well into the future.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Cholestanetriol 26-Monooxygenase
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / metabolism
  • Steroid Hydroxylases / genetics
  • Steroid Hydroxylases / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Vitamin D / genetics*
  • Vitamin D / metabolism
  • Vitamin D / physiology*


  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Vitamin D
  • DNA
  • Steroid Hydroxylases
  • CYP27A1 protein, human
  • Cholestanetriol 26-Monooxygenase