Crosstalk Between Vitamin D and p53 Signaling in Cancer: An Update

Jörg Reichrath, Sandra Reichrath, Thomas Vogt, Klaus Römer
Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology 2020, 1268: 307-318
It has now been convincingly shown that vitamin D and p53 signaling protect against spontaneous or carcinogen-induced malignant transformation of cells. The vitamin D receptor (VDR) and the p53/p63/p73 proteins (the p53 family hereafter) exert their effects as receptors/sensors that turn into transcriptional regulators upon stimulus. While the p53 clan, mostly in the nucleoplasm, responds to a large and still growing number of alterations in cellular homeostasis commonly referred to as stress, the nuclear VDR is transcriptionally activated after binding its naturally occurring biologically active ligand 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D with high affinity. Interestingly, a crosstalk between vitamin D and p53 signaling has been demonstrated that occurs at different levels, has genome-wide implications, and is of high importance for many malignancies, including non-melanoma skin cancer. These interactions include the ability of p53 to upregulate skin pigmentation via POMC derivatives including alpha-MSH and ACTH. Increased pigmentation protects the skin against UV-induced DNA damage and skin photocarcinogenesis, but also inhibits cutaneous synthesis of vitamin D. A second level of interaction is characterized by binding of VDR and p53 protein, an observation that may be of relevance for the ability of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D to increase the survival of skin cells after UV irradiation. UV irradiation-surviving cells show significant reductions in thymine dimers in the presence of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D that are associated with increased nuclear p53 protein expression and significantly reduced NO products. A third level of interaction is documented by the ability of vitamin D compounds to regulate the expression of the murine double minute (MDM2) gene in dependence of the presence of wild-type p53. MDM2 has a well-established role as a key negative regulator of p53 activity. Finally, p53 and its family members have been implicated in the direct regulation of the VDR. This review gives an update on some of the implications of the crosstalk between vitamin D and p53 signaling for carcinogenesis in the skin and other tissues, focusing on a genome-wide perspective.

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