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Reviewed December 2015

What is the official name of the KRT17 gene?

The official name of this gene is “keratin 17, type I.”

KRT17 is the gene's official symbol. The KRT17 gene is also known by other names, listed below.

Read more about gene names and symbols on the About page.

What is the normal function of the KRT17 gene?

The KRT17 gene provides instructions for making a protein called keratin 17 or K17. Keratins are a group of tough, fibrous proteins that form the structural framework of certain cells, particularly cells that make up the skin, hair, nails, and similar tissues. Keratin 17 is produced in the nails, the hair follicles, and the skin on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. It is also found in the skin's sebaceous glands, which produce an oily substance called sebum that normally lubricates the skin and hair.

Keratin 17 partners with a similar protein, keratin 6b, to form molecules called keratin intermediate filaments. These filaments assemble into dense networks that provide strength and resilience to the skin, nails, and other tissues. Networks of keratin intermediate filaments protect these tissues from being damaged by friction and other everyday physical stresses. Keratin 17 is also among several keratins involved in wound healing.

Does the KRT17 gene share characteristics with other genes?

The KRT17 gene belongs to a family of genes called KRT (keratins).

A gene family is a group of genes that share important characteristics. Classifying individual genes into families helps researchers describe how genes are related to each other. For more information, see What are gene families? in the Handbook.

How are changes in the KRT17 gene related to health conditions?

pachyonychia congenita - caused by mutations in the KRT17 gene

More than 20 mutations in the KRT17 gene have been identified in people with pachyonychia congenita, a rare condition that primarily affects the nails and skin. In most cases, this condition becomes apparent within the first few months of life. Most of the KRT17 gene mutations associated with pachyonychia congenita change single protein building blocks (amino acids) in keratin 17.

The KRT17 gene mutations responsible for pachyonychia congenita change the structure of keratin 17, preventing it from interacting effectively with keratin 6b and interfering with the assembly of the keratin intermediate filament network. Without this network, skin cells become fragile and are easily damaged, making the skin less resistant to friction and minor trauma. Even normal activities such as walking can cause skin cells to break down, resulting in the formation of painful blisters and calluses. In the sebaceous glands, abnormal keratin filaments lead to the development of sebum-filled cysts called steatocystomas. Defective keratin 17 also disrupts the growth and function of other tissues, such as the hair follicles and nails, which explains why the signs and symptoms of pachyonychia congenita can also affect these other parts of the body.

steatocystoma multiplex - caused by mutations in the KRT17 gene

At least four mutations in the KRT17 gene have been found to cause a skin disorder called hereditary steatocystoma multiplex. Researchers suggest that this condition may be a mild form (variant) of pachyonychia congenita (described above). Like pachyonychia congenita, hereditary steatocystoma multiplex involves the development of multiple sebaceous gland cysts called steatocystomas. Most people with hereditary steatocystoma multiplex do not have the other features of pachyonychia congenita, although mild nail and dental abnormalities are possible.

The KRT17 gene mutations that cause hereditary steatocystoma multiplex change single amino acids in the keratin 17 protein, which interferes with the assembly of the keratin intermediate filament network. In the sebaceous glands, these keratin abnormalities lead to the development of steatocystomas. It is unclear why these sebum-containing cysts are typically the only feature of this disorder.

Where is the KRT17 gene located?

Cytogenetic Location: 17q21.2

Molecular Location on chromosome 17: base pairs 41,619,440 to 41,624,630

(Homo sapiens Annotation Release 107, GRCh38.p2) (NCBIThis link leads to a site outside Genetics Home Reference.)

The KRT17 gene is located on the long (q) arm of chromosome 17 at position 21.2.

The KRT17 gene is located on the long (q) arm of chromosome 17 at position 21.2.

More precisely, the KRT17 gene is located from base pair 41,619,440 to base pair 41,624,630 on chromosome 17.

See How do geneticists indicate the location of a gene? in the Handbook.

Where can I find additional information about KRT17?

You and your healthcare professional may find the following resources about KRT17 helpful.

You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for genetics professionals and researchers.

What other names do people use for the KRT17 gene or gene products?

  • CK-17
  • cytokeratin-17
  • K1C17_HUMAN
  • K17
  • keratin 17
  • keratin-17
  • keratin, type I cytoskeletal 17

Where can I find general information about genes?

The Handbook provides basic information about genetics in clear language.

These links provide additional genetics resources that may be useful.

What glossary definitions help with understanding KRT17?

acids ; cysts ; cytokeratin ; domain ; gene ; hereditary ; intermediate filaments ; keratin ; motif ; pachyonychia ; protein ; resilience ; trauma

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.

See also Understanding Medical Terminology.

References (10 links)


The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.

Reviewed: December 2015
Published: February 8, 2016