The breakdown of the intestinal barrier is a common manifestation of many diseases. Recent evidence suggests that vitamin D and its receptor VDR may regulate intestinal barrier function. Claudin-2 is a tight junction protein that mediates paracellular water transport in intestinal epithelia, rendering them "leaky". Using whole body VDR(-/-) mice, intestinal epithelial VDR conditional knockout (VDR(ΔIEC)) mice, and cultured human intestinal epithelial cells, we demonstrate here that the CLDN2 gene is a direct target of the transcription factor VDR. The Caudal-Related Homeobox (Cdx) protein family is a group of the transcription factor proteins which bind to DNA to regulate the expression of genes. Our data showed that VDR-enhances Claudin-2 promoter activity in a Cdx1 binding site-dependent manner. We further identify a functional vitamin D response element (VDRE) 5΄-AGATAACAAAGGTCA-3΄ in the Cdx1 site of the Claudin-2 promoter. It is a VDRE required for the regulation of Claudin-2 by vitamin D. Absence of VDR decreased Claudin-2 expression by abolishing VDR/promoter binding. In vivo, VDR deletion in intestinal epithelial cells led to significant decreased Claudin-2 in VDR(-/-) and VDR(ΔIEC) mice. The current study reveals an important and novel mechanism for VDR by regulation of epithelial barriers.
Zhang Y, Wu S, Lu R, Zhou D, Zhou J, Carmeliet G, Petrof E, Claud EC, Sun J. Tight Junction CLDN2 Gene is a Direct Target of the Vitamin D Receptor. Scientific Reports. 2015; 5. doi: 10.1038/srep10642.