MadSci Network: Anatomy

Re: Curly hair

Area: Anatomy
Posted By: Prudence Risley, Collective Enigma Elucidator
Date: Thu Oct 31 14:13:15 1996
Message ID: 845703338.An

Hi Henry,

Hair is largely made up of a protein called keratin. Cells in the hair follicle regularly produce the keratin and other proteins that become incorporated into the hair shaft. Coloration comes from melanocytes which produce the brown pigment melanin.

The curliness of hair is determined by the amount of disulfide bonds between the hair protiens (bonding between two sulfer atoms -S-S-). Protiens are made of amino acids, two of which contain sulfer - methionine and cysteine. The bonds commonly occur between cysteine residues which have a free sulfhydryl group (-SH). More linking produces curlier hair. The process can also be carried out chemically as happens with a permanent wave. So the main difference between naturally curly hair and straight hair is in the amount of disulfide linking in the hair shaft.

Thanks for your question.


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