# Consequences of making keratin lipophilic?

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Hi:

Let's say all the keratin molecules in/on my body were to become as lipophilic as possible. What symptoms would I experience?

Thanks,

Green Xenon

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I would just like to say that I appreciate how random this question is.

As for the answer, who knows... it probably would not be a good thing? And you would probably enjoy butter being rubbed in your hair?

Edited by D.Smalley
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I would just like to say that I appreciate how random this question is.

As for the answer, who knows... it probably would not be a good thing? And you would probably enjoy butter being rubbed in your hair?

Why would it be a bad thing? If I had the money, I would actually like to make this change to my body.

Edited by Green Xenon
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Why would it be a bad thing? If I had the money, I would actually like to make this change to my body.

Are you suggesting synthetically altering keratin to make it more lipophilic? As in adding extra alkyl-groups? Otherwise keratin is already as lipohilic as it can be. I'm not sure I understand your meaning.

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Are you suggesting synthetically altering keratin to make it more lipophilic? As in adding extra alkyl-groups? Otherwise keratin is already as lipohilic as it can be. I'm not sure I understand your meaning.

A lipophile will readily mix with any greasy substance -- such as butter or vaseline. If the grease is liquid -- such as vegetable oil or liquid paraffin, the lipophile will dissolve in it. I think it would be fun if all the keratins in/on my body -- such as the stratum corneum, hair, and nails were to take on such a characteristic while maintaining their water-proof qualities.

A lipophile is to grease, what a hydrophile -- such as salt -- is to water.

If my keratins were lipophilic and I were to massage butter on my skin, hair, and nails and subsequently bathe in a tub of warm water -- this would cause my keratins to mix with the butterfat and float to the top of the tub.

How pleasurable life would be if keratins were complete lipophiles. If I wanted to cut my nails, I would simply dip them in mineral oil. If I wanted a haircut, all I would need to do is smear butter on my scalp.

What would be the drawbacks if the keratins in/on my body were complete lipophiles? Dehydration and infection would be unlikely because my keratins would still as water-proof as they are now.

Is there any known way to make all my keratin molecules completely lipophilic? Perhaps with the use of certain enzymes?

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There are around 30 types of karatin in the body and they are an important component of the cytoskeleton inside our cells where they provide a tough intermediate filament network. They are especially well developed in all epithelial cells where they help fasten epithelia sheets to the substrate and provide strength against tearing and distortion, in muscle cells for arranging and transmitting contraction, in delicate neurons and glia, and are an important component of cell division in the nucleus of all cells. If keratins were more hydrophobic they would not fold properly and bind together to form tough filaments, and this would be fatal, while small changes give you such fun diseases as epidermolysis bullosa simplex.

Green Xenon, the only benefit I can see to your idea is that you would get to slump to the floor in a pile of mush and be able to exclaim "I'm melting, melting. Ohhhhh, what a world, what a world." SM

Edited by SMF
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When you got old your senile hyperkeratosis would be worse.

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There are around 30 types of karatin in the body and they are an important component of the cytoskeleton inside our cells where they provide a tough intermediate filament network. They are especially well developed in all epithelial cells where they help fasten epithelia sheets to the substrate and provide strength against tearing and distortion, in muscle cells for arranging and transmitting contraction, in delicate neurons and glia, and are an important component of cell division in the nucleus of all cells. If keratins were more hydrophobic they would not fold properly and bind together to form tough filaments, and this would be fatal, while small changes give you such fun diseases as epidermolysis bullosa simplex.

Green Xenon, the only benefit I can see to your idea is that you would get to slump to the floor in a pile of mush and be able to exclaim "I'm melting, melting. Ohhhhh, what a world, what a world." SM

Okay let's leave out the hydrophobic part. What if the keratin molecules *only* in/on my stratum-corneum, hair, and nails were just completely-lipophilic without necessarily being any more hydrophobic than they currently are? What symptoms would I experience?

Sorry for my persistence on this topic, I just find hypothetical science to be extremely interesting. Is there a way to make the keratin molecules -- only in/on my stratum-corneum, hair and nails -- completely lipophilic without interfering with hydrophobicity?

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Green Xenon. I know that there are some substances that are hydrophobic but not lipophilic, but I don't think the other way (lipophilic not hydrophobic) and Mississippichem might comment on this. I am pretty sure that completely lipophilic keratins might not assemble into the tough protein fibers required for their function, and intracellularly they might mess up cellular function. Remember, the soft keratins of the stratum corneum and the hard keratins of hair and finger nails are the cytoskeletons of keratinocytes. Keratinocytes make a very elaborate cytoskeletion that is bound together with adjacent cells via cellular junctions to make a very tough epithelial sheet. When the cells die their bound together cytoskeletons remain as the skin surface or make hair and nails.

What you are really asking is a sensory question- What would it feel like? This is an even more difficult question to answer, but I am pretty sure that altering the skin surface might make it very hard to keep clean. SM

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Green Xenon. I know that there are some substances that are hydrophobic but not lipophilic, but I don't think the other way (lipophilic not hydrophobic) and Mississippichem might comment on this.

Correct. A molecule can be both hydrophobic and lipophobic. But if a molecule is lipochilic it will definitely be quite hydrophobic. Good examples include the highly fluorinated organic compounds. Many of them are very lipophobic and very hydrophobic, but they are fluorophilic, meaning they have high solubility in and affinity for other highly fluorinated compounds.

I'm a bit perplexed by this thread though. How are we proposing to make keratins more lipophilic? It most definitely makes a difference. Let's also remember that lipohilic and hydrophilic are not absolutes. Every compound has some solubility in every solvent, though it may be extremely tiny. What we need is a LogP value for a specific keratin. Given by comparing comparing differential solubility in two different solvents, usually water and octanol:

$logP = log \left ( \frac {[X]_{octanol}}{[X]_{water}} \right )$

If someone wants to find an experimental logP for a specific keratin, I'll use my handy ChemDraw comp. package to calculate a parameterized logP for the proposed more lipophilic analogue. Then we wounldn't be just wildly speculating but would have somewhat of a quantitative link to reality.

Edited by mississippichem
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• 2 weeks later...

Green Xenon. I know that there are some substances that are hydrophobic but not lipophilic, but I don't think the other way (lipophilic not hydrophobic) and Mississippichem might comment on this. I am pretty sure that completely lipophilic keratins might not assemble into the tough protein fibers required for their function, and intracellularly they might mess up cellular function. Remember, the soft keratins of the stratum corneum and the hard keratins of hair and finger nails are the cytoskeletons of keratinocytes. Keratinocytes make a very elaborate cytoskeletion that is bound together with adjacent cells via cellular junctions to make a very tough epithelial sheet. When the cells die their bound together cytoskeletons remain as the skin surface or make hair and nails.

What you are really asking is a sensory question- What would it feel like? This is an even more difficult question to answer, but I am pretty sure that altering the skin surface might make it very hard to keep clean. SM

Okay, lets change the question a bit. What would happen if all the keratin molecules in my stratum corneum, hair and nails were to become as hydrophilic as possible? Would I be at increased risk of infection or dehydration?

Sorry for my persistence on this topic, I just find hypothetical science to be very interesting.

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