Tangled Tresses

You think you’re having a bad hair day? Ach du lieber!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

The Germans call it Struwwelpeter or “Shockhead Peter.” It affects people with dry, frizzy blonde hair. Those who have it comb and brush, spray and spritz, but nothing loosens their locks. It’s more commonly known as Uncontrollable Hair Syndrome.

Buket Basmanov, at the University of Bonn in Germany, studies rare hereditary hair disorders. Basmanov and colleagues were able to identify mutations in three genes involved with hair formation.

The main gene forms proteins that hold together keratin fibers. Keratin is the basic structural component of hair and nails. A second gene helps the first gene “see” the keratin fibers easier. A third gene helps the first gene grasp hold of the keratin.

Using mice, Basmanov showed that being born with one out of three injured genes leads to deformed hair follicles. And, these misshapen, wise-guy follicles form quite the tangled tuft!

As for what to nickname the three genes, how about Larry, Moe and Curley? Our Stooges!
What a bunch of knuckleheads!