Differences between ultrastructure and protein composition in straight hair fibres.

Affiliation

Proteins and Metabolites, AgResearch Ltd, Private Bag 4749, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

Mammalian hairs are internally patterned from both a morphological and proteomic perspective to exhibit specific functional traits, including curvature, which is important for coat structure affecting thermo-insulation. Most functional traits in mammalian coats are complex emergent phenomena associated with single-fibre properties that are themselves multi-variate and poorly understood. Here we compare hair curvature, ultrastructure, microstructure, protein composition and felting (a functional attribute) between fibres from natural straight-wool mutants of domestic sheep (felting lustre-mutant sheep), their wild-type relatives and also with a straight-haired semi-lustrous breed, English Leicester. Proteomic and structural results confirmed that the straight lustre mutant fibres had a normal cuticle and the same cortical protein and ultrastructural building blocks as wild-type fibres, but differed from equivalent fibres from wild-type relatives and English Leicester in layout and relative proportions. While curved wild-type fibres had bilaterally arranged orthocortex and paracortex, and English Leicester fibres had a scatter of paracortex on a background of orthocortex, lustre mutant fibres typically had a complete or partial ring of orthocortex surrounding a paracortex core, and sometimes a central orthocortex (similar to straight human and goat hairs). Lustre mutant fibres also had a reduced abundance of some high glycine-tyrosine proteins, normally associated with the orthocortex, with a possible relationship between the protein expression of the KAP8 and KAP16 protein families and fibre felting properties. We conclude that through control of the internal fibre patterning, multiple-solutions to hair curvature are possible, and variation may affect mechanical phenotype differently. Felting lustre mutant sheep will be a useful tool for discriminating cause and effect from non-causative correlation in mammalian fibre development.

Keywords

felting lustre mutant,high glycine-tyrosine proteins,high sulfur proteins,keratin,mechanomics,pelage,wool,

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