You probably already know that the gene responsible for giving you red hair is called the MC1R gene. But, do you know what it really is and why it’s responsible for creating redheads? Here’s the fascinating facts about the MC1R gene and you don’t need to be a scientist to follow it:
What does the MC1R gene do exactly?
Redheads are made up of tens of thousands of genes and one of those genes is the MC1R gene. According to medlineplus.gov, “the MC1R gene provides instructions for making a protein called the melanocortin 1 receptor. This receptor plays an important role in normal pigmentation. The receptor is primarily located on the surface of melanocytes, which are specialized cells that produce a pigment called melanin.” What this means is that the MC1R gene helps to determine melanin, which gives us the color of our skin, hair, and eyes.
Who has the MC1R gene?
MC1R is often talked about like it’s a special gene that redheads have and others don’t. It’s even been nicknamed the “redhead gene.” However, that isn’t quite accurate. You may be surprised to know that everyone has the MC1R gene, and it’s actually a variation of the gene that causes red hair. This redhead variation must be present in both parents for a child to have red hair.
Where does red hair come from?
The redhead variation of the MC1R gene causes the body to have higher levels of pheomelanin, which in turn may cause red hair. Along with red hair, the gene commonly manifests fair skin, freckles, increased sensitivity to sun exposure, sensitive skin, and other common redhead traits.
Rock it like a Redhead!