Skip navigation

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

URL of this page:

SPINK5 gene

serine peptidase inhibitor Kazal type 5

Normal Function

The SPINK5 gene provides instructions for making a protein called LEKT1. LEKT1 is a type of serine peptidase inhibitor. Serine peptidase inhibitors control the activity of enzymes called serine peptidases, which break down other proteins. LEKT1 is found in the skin and in the thymus, which is a gland located behind the breastbone that plays an important role in the immune system by producing white blood cells called lymphocytes. LEKT1 controls the activity of certain serine peptidases in the outer layer of skin (the epidermis), especially the tough outer surface known as the stratum corneum, which provides a sturdy barrier between the body and its environment. Serine peptidase enzymes are involved in normal skin shedding by helping to break the connections between cells of the stratum corneum. LEKT1 is also involved in normal hair growth, the development of lymphocytes in the thymus, and the control of peptidases that trigger immune system function.

Health Conditions Related to Genetic Changes

Netherton syndrome

At least 70 SPINK5 gene mutations have been identified in people with Netherton syndrome, a disorder involving skin and hair abnormalities and a high risk of allergies, asthma, and an inflammatory skin condition called eczema. Mutations in the SPINK5 gene result in a LEKT1 protein that is unable to control serine peptidase activity. The lack of LEKT1 function allows the serine peptidases to be abnormally active and break down too many proteins in the stratum corneum. As a result, excessive skin shedding takes place, and the stratum corneum is unusually thin and breaks down easily, resulting in the skin abnormalities that occur in Netherton syndrome. Loss of LEKT1 function also results in abnormal hair growth. The immune dysfunction that leads to allergies, asthma, and eczema in people with Netherton syndrome likely arises from a lack of LEKT1 control of peptidases involved in the triggering of immune system function. Excessive activation of the immune system caused by invasion of microbes in the abnormal skin is also thought to be involved.

More About This Health Condition

Other disorders

Normal variations (polymorphisms) in the SPINK5 gene have been associated with an increased risk of abnormal triggering (hypersensitivity) of the immune system, known as atopy. Atopy leads to disorders such as allergies, eczema, and asthma. SPINK5 gene variations may affect the ability of LEKT1 to control peptidases involved in triggering the immune system, leading to an increased risk of these disorders.

Other Names for This Gene

  • DKFZp686K19184
  • FLJ21544
  • FLJ97536
  • FLJ97596
  • FLJ99794
  • lympho-epithelial Kazal-type-related inhibitor
  • lymphoepithelial Kazal-type-related inhibitor
  • NETS
  • NS
  • serine protease inhibitor Kazal-type 5
  • serine protease inhibitor, Kazal type 5

Additional Information & Resources

Tests Listed in the Genetic Testing Registry

Scientific Articles on PubMed

Catalog of Genes and Diseases from OMIM

Gene and Variant Databases


  • Bitoun E, Chavanas S, Irvine AD, Lonie L, Bodemer C, Paradisi M, Hamel-Teillac D, Ansai S, Mitsuhashi Y, Taieb A, de Prost Y, Zambruno G, Harper JI, Hovnanian A. Netherton syndrome: disease expression and spectrum of SPINK5 mutations in 21 families. J Invest Dermatol. 2002 Feb;118(2):352-61. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-1747.2002.01603.x. Citation on PubMed
  • D'Alessio M, Fortugno P, Zambruno G, Hovnanian A. Netherton syndrome and its multifaceted defective protein LEKTI. G Ital Dermatol Venereol. 2013 Feb;148(1):37-51. Citation on PubMed
  • Hovnanian A. Netherton syndrome: skin inflammation and allergy by loss of protease inhibition. Cell Tissue Res. 2013 Feb;351(2):289-300. doi: 10.1007/s00441-013-1558-1. Epub 2013 Jan 24. Citation on PubMed
  • Lacroix M, Lacaze-Buzy L, Furio L, Tron E, Valari M, Van der Wier G, Bodemer C, Bygum A, Bursztejn AC, Gaitanis G, Paradisi M, Stratigos A, Weibel L, Deraison C, Hovnanian A. Clinical expression and new SPINK5 splicing defects in Netherton syndrome: unmasking a frequent founder synonymous mutation and unconventional intronic mutations. J Invest Dermatol. 2012 Mar;132(3 Pt 1):575-82. doi: 10.1038/jid.2011.366. Epub 2011 Nov 17. Citation on PubMed
  • Liu Q, Xia Y, Zhang W, Li J, Wang P, Li H, Wei C, Gong Y. A functional polymorphism in the SPINK5 gene is associated with asthma in a Chinese Han Population. BMC Med Genet. 2009 Jun 17;10:59. doi: 10.1186/1471-2350-10-59. Citation on PubMed or Free article on PubMed Central
  • Roelandt T, Thys B, Heughebaert C, De Vroede A, De Paepe K, Roseeuw D, Rombaut B, Hachem JP. LEKTI-1 in sickness and in health. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2009 Aug;31(4):247-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2494.2009.00516.x. Epub 2009 May 13. Citation on PubMed
  • Sprecher E, Chavanas S, DiGiovanna JJ, Amin S, Nielsen K, Prendiville JS, Silverman R, Esterly NB, Spraker MK, Guelig E, de Luna ML, Williams ML, Buehler B, Siegfried EC, Van Maldergem L, Pfendner E, Bale SJ, Uitto J, Hovnanian A, Richard G. The spectrum of pathogenic mutations in SPINK5 in 19 families with Netherton syndrome: implications for mutation detection and first case of prenatal diagnosis. J Invest Dermatol. 2001 Aug;117(2):179-87. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-1747.2001.01389.x. Citation on PubMed
  • Zhao LP, Di Z, Zhang L, Wang L, Ma L, Lv Y, Hong Y, Wei H, Chen HD, Gao XH. Association of SPINK5 gene polymorphisms with atopic dermatitis in Northeast China. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2012 May;26(5):572-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-3083.2011.04120.x. Epub 2011 May 18. Citation on PubMed

The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.