Monilethrix is a rare autosomal dominant disease characterized by hair fragility and follicular hyperkeratosis. Mutations in the human basic hair keratins hHb1 and hHb6 have recently been reported in this disease. Twelve families and sporadic cases were clinically diagnosed with monilethrix and were available for the study. The gene segment encoding the helix termination motif region of keratin hHb6 was PCR amplified and sequenced. Mutations were recognized in 6 families. Four families had the previously described mutations, Glu413Lys and Glu413Asp. In 2 unrelated families, a novel mutation, Glu402Lys, was identified. No clear association was found between the severity of the phenotype and the mutation carried. Furthermore, heterozygous members of the same family had variable degrees of hair and skin involvement. Homozygous patients identified in one large consanguineous family were more severely affected. Other genetic or environmental factors may also play a role in monilethrix.
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