John H. White

John H. White, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair, Dept. of Physiology, McGill University
McIntyre Bldg, Rm 1001, 3655 Prom. Sir William Osler, Montreal, Qc H3G 1Y6

Tel: 514 398 4318 (Admin. Office), 514 398 8498 (Lab office)

john.white [at]

Biographical Sketch

Dr. White, who obtained his Ph.D. in 1987 from Harvard, is a molecular biologist and molecular geneticist who has made numerous broad-ranging contributions to the fields of gene regulation and vitamin D physiology. His work on the molecular mechanisms of vitamin D action opened up the field of study of vitamin D as an inducer of antimicrobial innate immunity in humans, and has provided fundamental insights into its potential role as a cancer chemopreventive agent.


Gene regulation, vitamin D, innate immunity, cancer prevention

Research or Clinical Activities

Much of the lab's research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of action of the vitamin D receptor (VDR) with a focus on its function in regulating innate immunity and its role in cancer chemoprevention. Our work has revealed that the hormonal form of vitamin D stimulates several aspects of innate immune responses to pathogen threat, and that, moreover, many of the mechanisms are human/primate-specific. We are also exploring the molecular mechanisms by which vitamin D signaling through the VDR arrests cancer cell proliferation. In addition, we are collaborating with Dr. Jim Gleason (Chemistry) on the development of bifunctional vitamin D analogues as cancer therapeutics.

Selected Recent Publications

Dimitrov, V., Bouttier, G., Boukhaled, G., Salehi-Tabar R., Memari, B., Hasaj, B., Krawczyk, C.M. and White, J.H. (2017) Species- and tissue-specific induction of PD-L1 and PD-L2 expression by hormonal vitamin D. J. Biol. Chem. Oct. 23, doi: 10.1074/jbc.M117.793885.

Bijian, K., Kaldre, D., Wang, T.-T., Bouttier, M, Boucher, A., Alaoui-Jamali, M., White, J.H.*, Gleason, J.L.* (2017) Efficacy of hybrid vitamin D receptor agonist/histone deacetylase inhibitors in vitamin D-resistant triple-negative 4T1 breast cancer. J. Ster. Biochem. Mol. Biol. *corresponding authors.

Dimitrov, V. and White, J.H. (2017) Vitamin D signaling in intestinal innate immunity and homeostasis. Mol. Cell Endocrinol. 453, 68-78.

Bouttier, M., Laperriere, D., Memari, B., Verway, M., Fiore, A, Mitchell, E., Wang, T.T., Sladek, R., Behr, M., Mader, S. and White, J.H. (2016) Alu repeats as transcriptional regulatory platforms in macrophage responses to M. tuberculosis infection. Nucl. Acid. Res. 44, 10571-87.

Memari, B., Bouttier, M., Dimitrov, V., Behr, M.A., Fritz, J.H., and White, J.H. (2015) Engagement of aryl hydrocarbon receptor signaling by M. tuberculosis-infected macrophages. J. Immunol. 195, 4479-91.

Calderon, M. Verway, M., Benslama, R.O., Birlea, M., Bouttier, M., Dimitrov, V., Mader, S., and White, J.H. (2014) Ligand-dependent corepressor contributes to transcriptional repression by C2H2 zinc-finger transcription factor ZBRK1 through association with KRAB-associated protein-1. Nucl. Acids Res. 42, 7012-27.

Verway, M., Bouttier, M., Wang, T.T., Carrier, M., Calderon, M., An, B.-S., Devemy, E., McIntosh, F., Divangahi, M., Behr, M.A. and White, J.H. (2013) Vitamin D induces interleukin-1 expression: Paracrine macrophage-epithelial signaling controls M. tuberculosis infection. PLoS Pathogens 9(6): e1003407. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003407

Salehi-Tabar, R., Nguyen-Yamamoto, L., Tavera-Mendoza, L.E., Quail, T., Dimitrov, V., An, B.-S., Glass, L., Goltzman, D. and White, J.H. (2012) The vitamin D receptor as a master regulator of the cMYC/MXD1 network. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 109, 18827-32. Voted one of the top 10 cancer research stories of 2012 by the Canadian Cancer Society.

PubMed Publications – J. White


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