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Ligand-Independent Actions of the Vitamin D Receptor: More Questions Than Answers.

  • Author(s): Bikle, Daniel D
  • et al.

Our predominant understanding of the actions of vitamin D involve binding of its ligand, 1,25(OH)D, to the vitamin D receptor (VDR), which for its genomic actions binds to discrete regions of its target genes called vitamin D response elements. However, chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing (ChIP-seq) studies have observed that the VDR can bind to many sites in the genome without its ligand. The number of such sites and how much they coincide with sites that also bind the liganded VDR vary from cell to cell, with the keratinocyte from the skin having the greatest overlap and the intestinal epithelial cell having the least. What is the purpose of the unliganded VDR? In this review, I will focus on two clear examples in which the unliganded VDR plays a role. The best example is that of hair follicle cycling. Hair follicle cycling does not need 1,25(OH)2D, and Vdr lacking the ability to bind 1,25(OH)2D can restore hair follicle cycling in mice otherwise lacking Vdr. This is not true for other functions of VDR such as intestinal calcium transport. Tumor formation in the skin after UVB radiation or the application of chemical carcinogens also appears to be at least partially independent of 1,25(OH)2D in that Vdr null mice develop such tumors after these challenges, but mice lacking Cyp27b1, the enzyme producing 1,25(OH)2D, do not. Examples in other tissues emerge when studies comparing Vdr null and Cyp27b1 null mice are compared, demonstrating a more severe phenotype with respect to bone mineral homeostasis in the Cyp27b1 null mouse, suggesting a repressor function for VDR. This review will examine potential mechanisms for these ligand-independent actions of VDR, but as the title indicates, there are more questions than answers with respect to this role of VDR. © 2021 The Author. JBMR Plus published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.

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