Finding may help explain related conditions in people
Inactivating just one of more than two dozen similar genes can cause temporary but profound hair loss, known as alopecia, in mice, researchers from Johns Hopkins and the Pasteur Institute in France report in the June issue of Genes & Development.
Surprisingly, the impact of loss of this keratin 17 gene (K17) depended on an animals genetic make-up: its loss caused no effect in one strain of mice and complete alopecia in another, the scientists report. Mice that were a mix of the strains showed severe or moderate hair loss, or even no hair loss at all, says Pierre Coulombe, Ph.D., professor of biological chemistry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
"Its well known that a single genetic change can cause different effects in different individuals," says Coulombe, also a faculty member in dermatology. "However, its unusual to be able to unravel why this happens. If we can understand how mice respond differently to the lack of K17, maybe it will help us understand whats going on in humans with altered K17."
Joanna Downer | EurekAlert
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