Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Bioessays. 2003 Aug;25(8):748-58.

The quest for the function of simple epithelial keratins.

Author information

Cancer Research UK Cell Structure Research Group, School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Scotland.


Simple epithelial keratins K8 and K18 are components of the intracellular cytoskeleton in the cells of the single-layered sheet tissues inside the body. As members of the intermediate filament family of proteins, their function has been a matter for debate since they were first discovered. Whilst there is an indisputable case for a structural cell-reinforcing function for keratins in the mutilayered squamous epithelia of external barrier tissues, some very different stress-protective features now seem to be emerging for the simple epithelial keratins. Even the emerging evidence of pathological mutations in K8/K18 looks very different from mutations in stratified epithelial keratins. K8/K18-like keratins were probably the first to evolve and, whilst stratified epithelial (keratinocyte) keratins have diversified into a large group of keratins highly specialised for providing mechanical stability, the simple epithelial keratins have retained early features that may protect the internal epithelia from a broader range of stresses, including osmotic stress and chemical toxicity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Wiley
    Loading ...
    Support Center