DNA damage can occur in keratin cells due to high levels of oxidative damage from UVB rays or reactive oxygen species. When damaged, DNA may undergo chemical alterations such as stand breaking, cross linking and the loss of DNA bases. This damage can result in the loss of genetic information which leaves cells unable to produce the proteins necessary for cell survival.
For proteins produced by DNA transcription to be useful to a cell, the proteins need to be folded into the right configuration to work properly.
Damage to DNA can result in misfolded proteins that are completely useless to the cell. Protein misfolding can also occur when there are other stressors that affect protein structure overwhelm a cell.
Calcium is able to activate m-caplain, a cytosolic protein that is involved in cellular processes such as DNA repair and assistance in DNA replication and transcription. Moreover, the expression of heat shock proteins and RNA binding proteins (required for DNA transcription) is increased with higher levels of calcium. Heat shock proteins are particularly beneficial to the cell as they are able to correctly fold misfolded proteins and enable these dysfunctional cells to be functional within the cell.
DNA is used as a template to create proteins that are needed for a living cell. Proteins perform a diverse range of functions in cells by acting as enzymes, carriers and hormones. Some proteins provide structural support for the cell. Keratin cells produce a lot of keratin, damage to the sections of DNA reacting to keratin can reduce the amount of keratin within a keratin cell leading to weak and brittle hair.