Hardening of the human hair shaft during cornification results from the bonding of keratins and keratin-associated proteins. In situ hybridization and light immunocytochemical studies have shown the general distribution of different keratins and some associated proteins but not determined their ultrastructural localization. I report here the localization of hair keratins, two high-sulfur keratin-associated proteins and sulfhydryl oxidase has been studied under the transmission electron microscope in the cornification zone of the human hair. The ultrastructural study on keratin distribution in general confirms previous light microscopic studies. Sulfur-rich KAP1 is mainly cortical but the labeling disappears in fully cornified cortical cells while a diffuse labeling is also present in differentiating cuticle cells. Sulfur-rich K26 immunolocalization is only detected in the exocuticle and endocuticle. Sparse labeling for sulfhydryl oxidase occurs in differentiating cortical cells but is weak and uneven in cuticle cells and absent in medulla and inner root sheath. Labeling disappears in the upper fully cornified cortex and cuticle. The observations indicate that sulfhydryl oxidase and keratin associated proteins are initially produced in the cytoplasm among keratin bundles accumulating in cortical and cuticle cells but these proteins undergo changes during the following cornification that alter the epitopes tagged by the antibodies.
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The present ultrastructural study was completely supported by Comparative Histolab.
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I declare that I have no conflicts of interest in the present manuscript.
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Alibardi, L. Ultrastructural localization of hair keratins, high sulfur keratin-associated proteins and sulfhydryl oxidase in the human hair. Anat Sci Int 92, 248–261 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12565-016-0330-5