Single gene may cause curly hair

November 10, 2009 by Lin Edwards weblog
curly hair

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists in Australia have identified a single gene that strongly influences whether you have curly or straight hair.

The study looked for genetic variations in people of European descent to identify any genes associated with curly and straight hair. People of European descent have 45% straight hair, 40% wavy, and 15% naturally curly hair. Professor Martin and colleague Dr Sarah Medland have previously found there is up to a 90% chance of inheriting the curly hair trait.

The scientists, from the Genetic Epidemiology Laboratory at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) in Brisbane identified the TCHH gene (trichohyalin) on chromosome one as the major gene controlling the curliness of hair. TCHH has been known for over twenty years to play a role in the development of hair follicles. It is expressed in the inner root sheath of developing hair follicles.

Leader of the team, Professor Nick Martin said that variations in the gene determine how straight or curly the hair is, but more work is needed to determine the exact variant that influences curliness. Professor Martin said a variation that causes a change in an amino acid is the most likely contender.

Hair morphology has been studied extensively in Asian populations, and research carried out in Japan last year determined the genetic basis for the straight, thick hair common in East Asian populations. The differences in the FGFR2 and EDAR found in Asia are thought to have originated after East Asian and European populations diverged. Much less is known about the genetic basis of straight and curly hair in Europeans.

The study analyzed data collected from a 30-year study of 5000 twins of European . The twins were asked whether their hair was curly, wavy or straight, and the researchers then tried to match the hair type against the data on the genomes of the twins.

The paper was published on November 5 in the online edition of the American Journal of Human Genetics. The research is likely to have applications in the cosmetics industry and in forensics, where the knowledge may help in identifications.

More information: Common Variants in the Trichohyalin Gene Are Associated with Straight in Europeans, The American Journal of Human Genetics, 09 November 2009, doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2009.10.009

© 2009 PhysOrg.com

Explore further: Rat hair cells found to be true stem cells

Related Stories

Rat hair cells found to be true stem cells

October 4, 2005

Cells inside hair follicles are stem cells able to develop into the cell types needed for hair growth and follicle replacement, Swiss researchers claim.

Recommended for you

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

Quantum Theory May Explain Wishful Thinking

April 14, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Humans don’t always make the most rational decisions. As studies have shown, even when logic and reasoning point in one direction, sometimes we chose the opposite route, motivated by personal bias or simply ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.