Regulation of gene expression by α-tocopherol

Angelo Azzi, René Gysin, Petra Kempná, Adelina Munteanu, Luis Villacorta, T. Visarius, Jean Marc Zingg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


Several genes are regulated by tocopherols which can be categorized, based on their function, into five groups: genes that are involved in the uptake and degradation of tocopherols (Group 1) include α-tocopherol transfer protein (α-TTP) and cytochrome P450 (CYP3A); genes that are associated with lipid uptake and atherosclerosis (Group 2) include CD36, SR-BI and SR-AI/II. Genes that modulate the expression of extracellular proteins (Group 3) include tropomyosin, collagenα1, MMP-1, MMP-19 and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF). Genes that are related to inflammation, cell adhesion and platelet aggregation (Group 4) include E-selectin, ICAM-1, integrins, glycoprotein IIb, II-2, IL-4 and IL-β. Group 5 comprises genes coding for proteins involved in cell signaling and cell cycle regulation and consists of PPAR-γ, cyclin D1, cyclin E, Bcl2-L1, p27 and CD95 (Apo-1/Fas ligand). The expression of P27, Bcl2, α-TTP, CYP3A, tropomyosin, II-2, PPAR-γ, and CTGF appears to be up-regulated by one or more tocopherols whereas all other listed genes are down-regulated. Several mechanisms may underlie tocopherol-dependent gene regulation. In some cases protein kinase C has been implicated due to its deactivation by α-tocopherol and its participation in the regulation of a number of transcription factors (NF-κB, AP-1). In other cases a direct involvement of PXR/RXR has been documented. The antioxidant responsive element (ARE) appears in some cases to be involved as well as the transforming growth factor β responsive element (TGF-β-RE). This heterogeneity of mediators of tocopherol action suggests the need of a common element that could be a receptor or a co-receptor, able to interact with tocopherol and with transcription factors directed toward specific regions of promoter sequences of sensitive genes. Here we review recent results of the search for molecular mechanisms underpinning the central signaling mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)585-591
Number of pages7
JournalBiological Chemistry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • α-tocopherol (tocopherols, tocotrienols)
  • Cell regulation
  • Gene expression
  • Inhibition of cell proliferation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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