Keratin 17 in disease pathogenesis: from cancer to dermatoses

J Pathol. 2019 Feb;247(2):158-165. doi: 10.1002/path.5178. Epub 2018 Dec 7.


Keratin 17 (K17) is a type I intermediate filament mainly expressed in the basal cells of epithelia. As a multifaceted cytoskeletal protein, K17 regulates a myriad of biological processes, including cell proliferation and growth, skin inflammation and hair follicle cycling. Aberrant overexpression of K17 is found in various diseases ranging from psoriasis to malignancies such as breast, cervical, oral squamous and gastric carcinomas. Moreover, genetic mutation in KRT17 is related to tissue-specific diseases, represented by steatocystoma multiplex and pachyonychia congenita. In this review, we summarize our findings concerning the regulatory mechanisms of K17 overexpression in psoriasis and compare them to the literature relating to other diseases. We discuss data that proinflammatory cytokines, including interleukin-17 (IL-17), IL-22, interferon-gamma (IFN-γ), transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) and transcription factors glioma-associated oncogene homolog 1/2 (Gli1/2), Nrf2 and p53 can regulate K17 by transcriptional and translational control. Moreover, post-translational modification, including phosphorylation and ubiquitination, is involved in the regulation of K17 stability and biological functions. We therefore review the current understanding of the K17 regulatory mechanism and its pathogenic role in diseases from dermatoses to cancer. Prospects for anti-K17 therapy in diagnosis, prognosis and disease treatment are also discussed. Copyright © 2018 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Keywords: Keratin 17; breast; cervix; dermatoses; p27; pachyonychia congenita; psoriasis; squamous cell carcinoma; steatocystoma multiplex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Keratin-17 / genetics
  • Keratin-17 / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Signal Transduction
  • Skin Diseases / genetics
  • Skin Diseases / metabolism*
  • Skin Diseases / pathology
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • KRT17 protein, human
  • Keratin-17
  • Transcription Factors