Vitamins D: The Relationships between Structure and Biological Activity

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  • Pharmaceutical Research Institute


The most active metabolite of vitamin D is 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3, which is a central regulator of mineral homeostasis: excessive administration leads to hypercalcemia. Additionally, 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 is important to decision-making by cells, driving many cell types to growth arrest, differentiate and undergo apoptosis. 1α,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 regulates gene transcription by binding to a single known receptor, the vitamin D receptor. Rapid intracellular signals are also elicited in vitro by 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 that are independent of transcription. There are many aspects of the multiple actions of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 that we do not fully understand. These include how a single receptor and provoked rapid events relate to the different actions of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3, its calcemic action per se, and whether a large number of genes are activated directly, via the vitamin D receptor, or indirectly. A strategy to resolving these issues has been to generate synthetic analogues of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3: Some of these separate the anti-proliferative and calcemic actions of the parent hormone. Crystallography is important to understanding how differences between 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3- and analogue-provoked structural changes to the vitamin D receptor may underlie their different activity profiles. Current crystallographic resolution has not revealed such information. Studies of our new analogues have revealed the importance of the A-ring adopting the chair β-conformation upon interaction with the vitamin D receptor to receptor-affinity and biological activity. Vitamin D analogues are useful probes to providing a better understanding of the physiology of vitamin D


Original languageEnglish
Article number2119
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2018


  • cell differentiation, vitamin D, vitamin D receptor, vitamin D analogies, crystallography