Human GC is a glycosylated alpha-globulin, ~58 kDa in size. Its 458 amino acids are coded for by 1690 nucleotides on chromosome 4 (4q11–q13). The primary structure contains 28 cysteine residues forming multiple disulfide bonds. GC contains 3 domains. Domain 1 is composed of 10 alpha helices, domain 2 of 9, and domain 3 of 4.
It is able to bind the various forms of vitamin D including ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3), the 25-hydroxylated forms (calcifediol), and the active hormonal product, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (calcitriol). The major proportion of vitamin D in blood is bound to this protein. It transports vitamin D metabolites between skin, liver and kidney, and then on to the various target tissues.
Many genetic variants of the GC gene are known. They produce 6 main haplotypes and 3 main protein variants (Gc1S, Gc1F and Gc2). The genetic variations are associated with differences in circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels. They have been proposed to account for some of the differences in vitamin D status in different ethnic groups, and have been found to correlate with the response to vitamin D supplementation.
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