Monilethrix: a novel mutation (Glu402Lys) in the helix termination motif and the first causative mutation (Asn114Asp) in the helix initiation motif of the type II hair keratin hHb6

J Invest Dermatol. 1999 Aug;113(2):263-6. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-1747.1999.00685.x.


Monilethrix, a rare human hair disorder with autosomal dominant transmission, can be caused by mutations in hair keratins. Up to now, causative mutations have only been found in two type II cortex keratins, hHb6 and hHb1. In these hair keratins, the helix termination motif, HTM, was the only site in which mutations were located. The most frequent mutation, which has been found in 22 cases, was a Glu413Lys substitution in hHb6, whereas other mutations, i.e., hHb6 Glu413Asp, hHb1 Glu413Lys, and hHb1 Glu402Lys, have been reported in a distinctly lower number of cases. In this study, we describe the equivalent of the hHb1 Glu402Lys mutation in the HTM of cortex keratin hHb6. The mutation occurred in an American family in which it could only be detected in one clinically affected individual. Thus the underlying G-->A transition represents a spontaneous germ-line mutation in the hHb6 gene. This new mutation indicates that both the hHb6/hHb1 Glu413Lys substitution and the hHb6/hHb1 Glu402Lys substitution, represent mutational hotspots in the HTM of type II cortex keratins. However, we also describe a monilethrix-causing mutation in the helix initiation motif, HIM, of the cortex keratin hHb6. The critical Asn114Asp substitution was only found in affected members of a large Swedish three-generation family. Considering that since childhood, half of the affected individuals suffer from complete baldness and follicular keratosis, the new HIM mutation seems to be associated with a rather severe disease phenotype. In conclusion, our data strongly suggest that monilethrix is a disease of the hair cortex, whose etiology is interesting in that causative mutations seem to be restricted to type II hair keratins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Female
  • Hair Diseases / genetics*
  • Helix-Turn-Helix Motifs / genetics
  • Humans
  • Keratins / chemistry
  • Keratins / genetics
  • Male
  • Pedigree
  • Point Mutation


  • Keratins