Send to

Choose Destination
Differentiation. 1987;35(3):236-48.

Keratins of the human hair follicle: "hyperproliferative" keratins consistently expressed in outer root sheath cells in vivo and in vitro.

Author information

Institute of Biochemistry, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg.


Keratins produced by morphologically distinct compartments of the human hair folicle (hHF) were analysed and compared to those produced by cultured hHF and interfollicular keratinocytes. Five of the major keratins, the basic keratins nos. 5 and 6 (apparent mol. mass 60 and 58 kDa) and the acidic keratins nos. 14, 16, and 17 (51, 49 and 48 kDa), could be labelled in intact hHF and were found in all fractions of the outer root sheath (ORS). The other major keratins, which were not labelled under these conditions (basic-neutral hHbI and -II; 60-62 kDa and acidic hHaI and -II; 40-42 kDa) were associated with hair shaft (hHS) both in the follicle and, virtually unchanged, in the distal part of the hair. Another, previously undescribed, group of proteins with keratin-like properties exhibiting a broad pI-spectrum (basic to slightly acidic: hIC-I, -II, -III, 64-67 kDa; distinctly acidic: hIC-IV, about 54 kDa) was detected in isolated inner root sheath (IRS), in the cuticular material shed from denuded hHS, and also in nail plates. In our experiments only ORS cells grew readily in culture irrespective of their origin from peripheral (mesenchyme-adjacent) or more central ORS-cell layers. In contrast to keratinocytes from interfollicular epidermis (IFE) the cultured ORS cells expressed a keratin set virtually identical to that expressed in vivo. This set also closely resembled that expressed by IFE keratinocyte cultures. The identity of the respective keratins (nos. 5, 6, 14, 16, and 17) present in all these cells in vivo and in vitro was confirmed by tryptic peptide mapping. The data indicated that the microenvironment (in situ) directs the differentiation of ORS cells in a manner comparable to the way it is directed by conventional culture conditions, with consistent expression of the "basal" and "hyperproliferative" set of keratins. This, however, does not exclude the possibility that other types of environmentally induced response may occur, as seen for example during the reepithelialization of superficial skin wounds by ORS cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center