Structural changes in the transformation from α- to β-keratin

  • M. L. Huggins
Conference paper
Part of the Progress in Colloid & Polymer Science book series (PROGCOLLOID, volume 67)


Recently deduced structure patterns for α-keratin (the protein in hair) and β-keratin (produced by stretching α-keratin) are described. In the transformation the intramolecular hydrogen bonds and the crosslinks between the helical chains are broken. The molecular chain helices are extended until there is just one residue per helix turn. New laterally oriented interchain hydrogen bonds are formed. They are in planes making dihedral angles of about 120° with each other. These hydrogen bonds produce aggregates that can be “6-stacks”, shaped like hexagonal prisms, or perhaps (with half of the chains reversing their helix rotation sense) “pleated” or “wavy” sheets or composites of these or other types. In any case, disulfide and presumably other types of crosslinks are formed between appropriately located carbon atoms at the bends of the hydrogen bond aggregates.


Hexagonal Prism Helical Chain Helix Axis Axial Shift Helix Turn 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Dr. Dietrich Steinkopff Verlag 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. L. Huggins
    • 1
  1. 1.WoodsideUSA

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