Mouse and Human BAC Transgenes Recapitulate Tissue-Specific Expression of the Vitamin D Receptor in Mice and Rescue the VDR-Null Phenotype

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The biological actions of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25(OH)2D3) are mediated by the vitamin D receptor (VDR), which is expressed in numerous target tissues in a cell type-selective manner. Recent studies using genomic analyses and recombineered bacterial artificial chromosomes (BACs) have defined the specific features of mouse and human VDR gene loci in vitro. In the current study, we introduced recombineered mouse and human VDR BACs as transgenes into mice and explored their expression capabilities in vivo. Individual transgenic mouse strains selectively expressed BAC-derived mouse or human VDR proteins in appropriate vitamin D target tissues, thereby recapitulating the tissue-specific expression of endogenous mouse VDR. The mouse VDR transgene was also regulated by 1,25(OH)2D3 and dibutyryl-cAMP. When crossed into a VDR-null mouse background, both transgenes restored wild-type basal as well as 1,25(OH)2D3-inducible gene expression patterns in the appropriate tissues. This maneuver resulted in the complete rescue of the aberrant phenotype noted in the VDR-null mouse, including systemic features associated with altered calcium and phosphorus homeostasis and disrupted production of parathyroid hormone and fibroblast growth factor 23, and abnormalities associated with the skeleton, kidney, parathyroid gland, and the skin. This study suggests that both mouse and human VDR transgenes are capable of recapitulating basal and regulated expression of the VDR in the appropriate mouse tissues and restore 1,25(OH)2D3 function. These results provide a baseline for further dissection of mechanisms integral to mouse and human VDR gene expression and offer the potential to explore the consequence of selective mutations in VDR proteins in vivo.

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