The KRT3 gene provides instructions for making a protein called keratin 3. Keratins are a group of tough, fibrous proteins that form the structural framework of epithelial cells, which are cells that line the surfaces and cavities of the body. Keratin 3 is produced in a tissue on the surface of the eye called the corneal epithelium. This tissue forms the outermost layer of the cornea, which is the clear front covering of the eye. The corneal epithelium acts as a barrier to help prevent foreign materials, such as dust and bacteria, from entering the eye.
The keratin 3 protein partners with another keratin protein, keratin 12, to form molecules known as intermediate filaments. These filaments assemble into strong networks that provide strength and resilience to the corneal epithelium.
Health Conditions Related to Genetic Changes
Meesmann corneal dystrophy
At least three mutations in the KRT3 gene have been found to cause Meesmann corneal dystrophy, an eye disease characterized by the formation of tiny cysts in the corneal epithelium.
All of the identified KRT3 gene mutations associated with Meesmann corneal dystrophy change single protein building blocks (amino acids) in the keratin 3 protein. These changes occur in a region of the protein that is critical for the formation and stability of intermediate filaments. The altered keratin 3 protein interferes with the assembly of intermediate filaments, weakening the structural framework of the corneal epithelium. As a result, this outer layer of the cornea is abnormally fragile and develops the cysts that characterize Meesmann corneal dystrophy. The cysts likely contain clumps of abnormal keratin proteins and other cellular debris. When the cysts break open (rupture), they cause eye irritation, increased sensitivity to light (photophobia), and related symptoms.More About This Health Condition
Other Names for This Gene
- 65 kDa cytokeratin
- cytokeratin 3
- keratin 3, type II
- keratin, type II cytoskeletal 3
- type-II keratin Kb3
Additional Information & Resources
Tests Listed in the Genetic Testing Registry
Scientific Articles on PubMed
Catalog of Genes and Diseases from OMIM
- Chen YT, Tseng SH, Chao SC. Novel mutations in the helix termination motif of keratin 3 and keratin 12 in 2 Taiwanese families with Meesmann corneal dystrophy. Cornea. 2005 Nov;24(8):928-32. doi: 10.1097/01.ico.0000159732.29930.26. Citation on PubMed
- Irvine AD, Corden LD, Swensson O, Swensson B, Moore JE, Frazer DG, Smith FJ, Knowlton RG, Christophers E, Rochels R, Uitto J, McLean WH. Mutations in cornea-specific keratin K3 or K12 genes cause Meesmann's corneal dystrophy. Nat Genet. 1997 Jun;16(2):184-7. doi: 10.1038/ng0697-184. Citation on PubMed
- Szaflik JP, Oldak M, Maksym RB, Kaminska A, Pollak A, Udziela M, Ploski R, Szaflik J. Genetics of Meesmann corneal dystrophy: a novel mutation in the keratin 3 gene in an asymptomatic family suggests genotype-phenotype correlation. Mol Vis. 2008 Sep 15;14:1713-8. Citation on PubMed or Free article on PubMed Central
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