Whether you wear your silver locks with pride or hide them with dye, it’s a fact of life that our hair goes grey as we age. These mice are all one year old, but while the animal on the left still has a dark coat, those on the right have started to go grey. That’s because they carry faulty versions of a gene called PIKfyve, which is normally involved in the formation of melanosomes – small packets (vesicles) made inside hair cells that are packed with dark melanin pigment. Without PIKfyve the melanosomes fail to mature, so the animals’ hair rapidly turns grey. But there’s more to this research than just finding out the black and white facts behind grey hair. Faulty vesicles are associated with several human diseases, including diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, so studying melanosomes reveals important information about how vesicles are formed what happens when they go wrong.
Written by Kat Arney
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