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Mech Dev. 2005 Sep;122(9):988-97.

Segmental Igfbp5 expression is specifically associated with the bent structure of zigzag hairs.

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Max-Planck-Institute of Immunobiology, D-79108 Freiburg, Germany.


The murine hair coat consists of four different hair types that are characterised by hair length, the number of medulla columns, and the presence and number of bends. The molecular mechanisms underlying the establishment and maintenance of distinct hair follicle fates are unknown. We identify Igfbp5 as the first molecular marker that distinguishes among different hair follicle types. High-resolution expression analysis revealed that its expression in the medulla of hair shafts is associated with the bend-forming zones of zigzag hairs. To directly examine the functional importance of segmental gene expression in the hair follicle, we have generated transgenic mice expressing Igfbp5 in differentiating keratinocytes of the medulla and inner root sheath. Ectopic expression of Igfbp5 resulted in the appearance of remarkable curvatures and thinning of hair shafts, two hallmarks of hair bends. Both effects and the natural bending process are under negative control of IGF signalling. Thus, our data identify Igfbp5 as a central regulator of hair shaft differentiation and hair type determination.

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