A precursor protein associated with the formation of the citrulline-containing intermediate filaments of the hair follicle has been isolated and characterized. The protein, with a molecular weight of 190,000, was isolated from sheep wool follicles and purified until it yielded a single band on a SDS polyacrylamide gel. The Mr 190,000 protein has a high content of lysine and glutamic acid/glutamine residues and is rich in arginine residues, some of which, it is postulated, undergo a side chain conversion in situ into citrulline residues. Polyclonal antibodies were raised to the purified protein, and these cross-react with similar proteins from extracts of guinea pig and human follicles and rat vibrissae inner root sheaths. Tissue immunochemical methods have localized the Mr 190,000 protein to the trichohyalin granules of the developing inner root sheath of the wool follicle. We propose that the old term trichohyalin be retained to describe this Mr 190,000 protein. Immunoelectron microscopy has located the Mr 190,000 protein to the trichohyalin granules but not to the newly synthesized filaments. This technique has revealed that trichohyalin becomes associated with the filaments at later stages of development. These results indicate a possible matrix role for trichohyalin.

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