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Homo sapiens
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Keratins are the major structural protein of vertebrate epidermis, constituting up to 85% of a fully differentiated keratinocyte (Fuchs 1995). Keratins belong to a superfamily of intermediate filament (IF) proteins that form alpha-helical coiled-coil dimers, which associate laterally and end-to-end to form approximately 10 nm diameter filaments. Keratin filaments are heteropolymeric, formed from equal amounts of acidic type I and basic /neutral type 2 keratins. Humans have 54 keratin genes (Schweitzer et al. 2006). They have highly specific expression patterns, related to the epithelial type and stage of differentiation. Roughly half of human keratins are specific to hair follicles (Langbein & Schweizer 2005). Keratin filaments bundle into tonofilaments that span the cytoplasm and bind to desmosomes and other cell membrane structures (Waschke 2008). This reflects their primary function, maintaining the mechanical stability of individual cells and epithelial tissues (Moll et al. 2008).

Literature References
PubMed ID Title Journal Year
18461349 The human keratins: biology and pathology

Moll, R, Divo, M, Langbein, L

Histochem. Cell Biol. 2008
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