Desmoglein 4 (DSG4) protein and hair development

</font><blockquote><font size=“1” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”>quote:</font><hr /><font size=“2” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”> Researchers at Columbia University are uncovering the mechanisms of previously unknown genes governing hair growth and cycling. In their latest findings, published last Friday, they identified a new gene that encodes an adhesion protein crucial for hair growth.

The findings could lead to better, longer-lasting hair-removal treatments, the researchers say, and might someday throw light on baldness.

The newly discovered protein, called desmoglein 4 (DSG4), holds cells together as they change into one of many different types of hair follicle cells. DSG4 ensures that each cell is in the right place at the right time as it marches alongside the others when the hair shaft is formed. This way, each cell receives the right signals to become the right type of hair cell.

“This protein is like the Velcro that holds the cells together. If they don’t stick together properly, they become disconnected from their neighbors and can’t receive instructions properly,” says Dr. Angela M. Christiano, associate professor of dermatology and genetics & development at Columbia’s College of Physicians & Surgeons, in whose laboratory the research was performed.

Without DSG4, “the cells separate from each other and become disorganized, and rather than the six ordered layers of a normal hair fiber, you get a cluster of confused cells in the hair follicle.” As a result, people and mice lacking the gene have thin, sparse hair that is fragile and breaks easily. </font><hr /></blockquote><font size=“2” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”>