Mutations in keratin genes cause a diverse spectrum of skin, hair and mucosal disorders. Cutaneous disorders include epidermolysis bullosa simplex, palmoplantar keratoderma, epidermolytic ichthyosis and pachyonychia congenita. Both clinical and laboratory observations confirm a major role for keratins in maintaining epidermal cell–cell adhesion. When normal tissue homeostasis is disturbed, for example, during wound healing and cancer, keratins play an important non-mechanical role. Post-translational modifications including glycosylation and phosphorylation of keratins play an important role in protection of epithelial cells from injury. Keratins also play a role in modulation of the immune response. A current focus in the area of keratins and disease is the development of new treatments including small inhibitory RNA (siRNA) to mutant keratins and small molecules to modulate keratin expression.
- Epidermolysis bullosa simplex