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Title: Cataloging VDR Target Genes in the Proximal and Distal Segments of the Intestines

Name: Rohit Aita

Major: Genetics

School affiliation: School of Arts and Sciences

Programs: Human Genetics Institute of New Jersey MacMillan Cancer Genetics Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (HGI-SURF)

Other contributors: Michael P. Verzi, Evan Cohen, Sohaib Hassan, Joseph Hur, Oscar Pellon-Cardenas

Abstract: Vitamin D receptor (VDR) is a ligand-activated transcriptional factor that regulates intestinal transport of calcium. Vitamin D (Vit D) related deficiency is a particular focus of research for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, colon cancer, osteoporosis, and Rickett’s Syndrome as it is one of many distinguished risk factors for each of the aforementioned illnesses. Prior work has identified VDR as primarily functioning within the duodenum (proximal portion of the intestine near the stomach) in terms of Vit D uptake and calcium (Ca2+) absorption. However, novel work shows that the colon can be an overlooked target for VDR related calcium absorption. The goal of this project is to assay and analyze the quality of RNA-seq or whole transcriptome sequencing data from the duodenum and colon. We were able to obtain samples from the duodenal crypts, duodenal villus, and colon from mice either treated with Vehicle or Vit D3 on a Vit D deficient diet. To our knowledge, this is the first experiment to use RNA-seq to study dietary Vit D3 related transcriptional regulation within both the proximal and distal parts of the intestine. This research may serve to show the clinical potential of Vit D3 therapeutic delivery to the distal part of the intestine in addition to the proximal portion.