Vitamin D receptor displays DNA binding and transactivation as a heterodimer with the retinoid X receptor, but not with the thyroid hormone receptor

Paul D. Thompson, Jui Cheng Hsieh, G. Kerr Whitfield, Carol A. Haussler, Peter W. Jurutka, Michael A. Galligan, John B. Tillman, Stephen R. Spindler, Mark R. Haussler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The vitamin D receptor (VDR) is a transcription factor believed to function as a heterodimer with the retinoid X receptor (RXR). However, it was reported [Schrader et al., 1994] that, on putative vitamin D response elements (VDREs) within the rat 9k and mouse 28k calcium binding protein genes (rCaBP 9k and mCaBP 28k), VDR and thyroid hormone receptor (TR) form heterodimers that transactivate in response to both 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25(OH)2D3) and triiodothyronine (T3). We, therefore, examined associations of these receptors on the putative rCaBP 9k and mCaBP 28k VDREs, as well as on established VDREs from the rat osteocalcin (rOC) and mouse osteopontin (mOP) genes, plus the thyroid hormone response element (TRE) from the rat myosin heavy chain (rMHC) gene. In gel mobility shift assays, we found no evidence for VDR-TR heterodimer interaction with any tested element. Further, employing these hormone response elements linked to reporter genes in transfected cells, VDR and TR mediated responses to their cognate ligands only from the rOC/mOP and rMHC elements, respectively, while the CaBP elements were unresponsive to any combination of ligand(s). Utilizing the rOC and mOP VDREs, two distinct repressive actions of TR on VDR-mediated signaling were demonstrated: a T3-independent action, presumably via direct TR-RXR competition for DNA binding, and a T3-dependent repression, likely by diversion of limiting RXR from VDR-RXR toward the formation of TR-RXR heterodimers. The relative importance of these two mechanisms differed in a response element-specific manner. These results may provide a partial explanation for the observed association between hyperthyroidism and bone demineralization/osteoporosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)462-480
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Cellular Biochemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D
  • Hormone response elements
  • Nuclear hormone receptor
  • Transcriptional activation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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