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Cloning And Characterization Of The Vitamin D Receptor From Xenopus Laevis*

Yan Chun Li, Clemens Bergwitz, Harald Jüppner, Marie B. Demay

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Abstract The Vitamin D receptor (VDR), a member of the nuclear receptor superfamily, mediates the effects of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 on mineral ion homeostasis. Although the mammalian and avian VDRs have been extensively studied, little is known about the VDR in lower vertebrate species. To address this, we have isolated the Xenopus laevis VDR (xVDR) complementary DNA. Overall, the xVDR shares 79%, 73%, 73%, and 75% identity at the amino acid level with the chicken, mouse, rat, and human VDRs, respectively. The amino acid residues and subdomains important for DNA binding, hormone binding, dimerization, and transactivation are mostly conserved among all VDR species. The xVDR polypeptide can heterodimerize with the mouse retinoid X receptor α, bind to the rat osteocalcin vitamin D response element (VDRE), and induce vitamin D-dependent transactivation in transfected mammalian cells. Northern analysis reveals two xVDR messenger RNA species of 2.2 kb and 1.8 kb in stage 60 Xenopus tissues. In the adult, xVDR expression is detected in many tissues including kidney, intestine, skin, and bone. During Xenopus development, xVDR messenger RNA first appears at developmental stage 13 (preneurulation), increasing to maximum at stages 57–61 (metamorphosis). Our data demonstrate that, in Xenopus, VDR expression is developmentally regulated and that the vitamin D endocrine system is highly conserved during evolution.