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Keratin is a term used to refer to a family of structural proteins within the body, the most widely known being the subtype found in human skin. Keratins contain a high proportion of the simpler amino acids, glycine and alanine, but also contains a fair amount of cysteine, hence the characteristic smell of burning hair or skin.

Keratins within the cell often form part of the cytoskeleton and are termed cytokeratin, although the 2006 revised nomenclature is to simply refer to them as keratins.[1]. There immunohistology can be useful in typing/labelling cells, especially those of epithelial origin such as with carcinoma.


Human Keratins

Classification is in to acidic (Type I) and neutral or basic (type II) Some human keratins are:

  • Keratin, type II cytoskeletal 1 (cytokeratin-1, keratin-1, hair alpha protein, CK-1, K1, 67 kDa cytokeratin) coded by gene K2C1
  • Keratin, type II cytoskeletal 2 epidermal (cytokeratin-2e, keratin-2, CK 2e, K2e) coded by gene K22E
  • Keratin, type II cytoskeletal 3 (cytokeratin-3, keratin-3, CK-3, K3, 65 kDa cytokeratin) coded by gene KRT3
  • Keratin, type II cytoskeletal 4 (cytokeratin-4, keratin-4, CK-4, K4) coded by gene KRT4
  • Keratin, type II cytoskeletal 5 (cytokeratin-5, keratin-5, CK-5, K5, 58 kDa cytokeratin) coded by gene KRT5
  • Keratin, type II cytoskeletal 6A (cytokeratin-6A, K6a keratin, cytokeratin-6D, CK 6A, CK 6D, allergen Hom s 5) coded by gene KRT6A
  • Keratin, type II cytoskeletal 6B (cytokeratin-6B, K6b keratin, CK 6B) coded by gene KRT6B
  • Keratin, type II cytoskeletal 6C (cytokeratin-6C, keratin K6h, K6c keratin, cytokeratin-6E, CK 6C, CK 6E) coded by gene KRT6C
  • Keratin, type II cytoskeletal 7 (cytokeratin-7, sarcolectin, keratin-7, CK-7, K7) coded by gene KRT7
    • Usually expressed ductal epithelium of the genitourinary tract
  • Keratin, type II cytoskeletal 8 (cytokeratin-8, keratin-8, CK-8, K8) coded by gene KRT8
  • Keratin, type I cytoskeletal 9 (cytokeratin-9, keratin-9, CK-9, K9) coded by gene KRT9
  • Keratin, type I cytoskeletal 10 (cytokeratin-10, keratin-10, CK-10, K10) coded by gene KRT10
  • Keratin, type I cytoskeletal 12 (cytokeratin-12, keratin-12, CK-12, K12) coded by gene KRT12
  • Keratin, type I cytoskeletal 13 (cytokeratin-13, keratin-13, CK-13, K13) coded by gene KRT13
  • Keratin, type I cytoskeletal 14 (cytokeratin-14, CK-14, keratin-14, K14) coded by gene KRT14
  • Keratin, type I cytoskeletal 15 (cytokeratin-15, keratin-15, CK-15, K15) coded by gene KRT15
  • Keratin, type I cytoskeletal 16 (cytokeratin-16, keratin-16, CK-16, K16) coded by gene KRT16
  • Keratin, type I cytoskeletal 17 (cytokeratin-17, keratin-17, CK-17, K17) coded by gene KRT17
  • Keratin, type I cytoskeletal 18 (cytokeratin-18, keratin-18, CK-18, K18, cell proliferation-inducing gene 46 protein) coded by gene KRT18
  • Keratin, type I cytoskeletal 19 (cytokeratin-19, keratin-19, CK-19, K19) coded by gene KRT19
  • Keratin, type I cytoskeletal 20 (cytokeratin-20, protein IT, keratin-20, CK-20, K20) coded by gene KRT20
    • Usually expressed gastrointestinal tract
  • Keratin, type I cytoskeletal 23 (cytokeratin-23, keratin-23, CK-23, K23) coded by gene KRT23
  • Keratin, type I cytoskeletal 24 (cytokeratin-24, keratin-24,type I keratin-24, CK-24, K24) coded by gene KRT24
  • Keratin, type I cytoskeletal 25 (cytokeratin-25, keratin-25, keratin 25A, type I inner root sheath-specific keratin-K25irs1, CK-25, K25) coded by gene KRT25
  • Keratin, type I cytoskeletal 26 (cytokeratin-26, keratin-26, type I inner root sheath-specific keratin-K25irs2, CK-26, K26) (Keratin 25B) coded by gene KRT26
  • Keratin, type I cytoskeletal 27 (cytokeratin-27, keratin-27, type I inner root sheath-specific keratin-K25irs3, CK-27, K27) coded by gene KRT27
  • Keratin, type I cytoskeletal 28 (cytokeratin-28, keratin-28, type I inner root sheath-specific keratin-K25irs4, CK-28, K28) coded by gene KRT28
  • Keratin, type I cuticular Ha1 (hair keratin, type I Ha1, keratin-31, K31) coded by gene KRT31
  • Keratin, type I cuticular Ha2 (hair keratin, type I Ha2, keratin-32, K32) coded by gene KRT32
  • Keratin, type I cuticular Ha3-I (Hair keratin, type I Ha3-I, keratin-33A, K33A) coded by gene KRT33A
  • Keratin, type I cuticular Ha3-II (hair keratin, type I Ha3-II, keratin-33B, K33B) coded by gene KRT33B
  • Keratin, type I cuticular Ha4 (Hair keratin, type I Ha4, keratin-34, K34) coded by gene KRT34
    • Antibody Keratin 903
  • Keratin, type I cuticular Ha5 (hair keratin, type I Ha5, keratin-35, K35) coded by gene KRT35
  • Keratin, type I cuticular Ha6 (hair keratin, type I Ha6, keratin-36, K36) coded by gene KRT36
  • Keratin, type I cuticular Ha7 (Hair keratin, type I Ha7, keratin-37, K37) coded by gene KRT37
  • Keratin, type I cuticular Ha8 (Hair keratin, type I Ha8, keratin-38, K38) coded by gene KRT38
  • Keratin, type I cytoskeletal 39 (cytokeratin-39, keratin-39, type I hair keratin Ka35, CK-39, K39) coded by gene KRT39
  • Keratin, type I cytoskeletal 40 (cytokeratin-40, keratin-40, type I hair keratin Ka36, CK-40, K40) coded by gene KRT40
  • Keratin, type II cytoskeletal 71 (cytokeratin-71, keratin-71, type II keratin-34, type II inner root sheath-specific keratin-K6irs1, keratin 6 irs, K71, hK6irs, hK6irs1) coded by gene KRT71
  • Keratin, type II cytoskeletal 72 (cytokeratin-72, keratin-72, type-II keratin-35, type II inner root sheath-specific keratin-K6irs2) coded by gene KRT72
  • Keratin, type II cytoskeletal 73 (cytokeratin-73, keratin-73, type II keratin-36, type II inner root sheath-specific keratin-K6irs3) coded by gene KRT73
  • Keratin, type II cytoskeletal 74 (cytokeratin-74, keratin-74, type II keratin-37, type II inner root sheath-specific keratin-K6irs4, keratin-5c) coded by gene KRT74
  • Keratin, type II cytoskeletal 75 (cytokeratin-75, keratin-75, type II keratin-18, type II keratin-K6hf, keratin-6 hair follicle, hK6hf) coded by gene K2C75
  • Keratin, type II cytoskeletal 2 oral (cytokeratin-2P, keratin-76, CK 2P, K2P, K76) coded by gene KRT76
  • Keratin, type II cytoskeletal 1b (cytokeratin-1B, keratin-77, CK-1B, K77) coded by gene KRT77
  • Keratin, type II cytoskeletal 78 (cytokeratin-78, keratin-78, type II keratin-40, keratin-5b) coded by gene KRT78
  • Keratin, type II cytoskeletal 79 (Cytokeratin-79, keratin-79, type II keratin-38, keratin-6-like, keratin-6L) coded by gene KRT79
  • Keratin, type II cytoskeletal 80 (cytokeratin-80, keratin-80, type II keratin-20) coded by gene KRT80
  • Keratin, type II cuticular Hb1 (type II hair keratin Hb1, keratin-81, ghHKb1, ghHb1, K81, K2.9, MLN 137) coded by gene KRT81
  • Keratin, type II cuticular Hb2 (type II hair keratin Hb2, keratin-82, K82) coded by gene KRT82
  • Keratin, type II cuticular Hb3 (type II hair keratin Hb3, keratin-83, K83, K2.10) coded by gene KRT83
  • Keratin, type II cuticular Hb4 (type II hair keratin Hb4, keratin-84, K84) coded by gene KRT84
  • Keratin, type II cuticular Hb5 (type II hair keratin Hb5, keratin-85, K85, K12.12) coded by gene KRT85
  • Keratin, type II cuticular Hb6 (type II hair keratin Hb6, keratin-86, K86, K2.11) coded by gene KRT86
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