The protein encoded by this gene is a member of the keratin gene family. The keratins are intermediate filament proteins responsible for the structural integrity of epithelial cells and are subdivided into cytokeratins and hair keratins. Most of the type I cytokeratins consist of acidic proteins which are arranged in pairs of heterotypic keratin chains. This type I cytokeratin is paired with keratin 4 and expressed in the suprabasal layers of non-cornified stratified epithelia. Mutations in this gene and keratin 4 have been associated with the autosomal dominant disorder White Sponge Nevus. The type I cytokeratins are clustered in a region of chromosome 17q21.2. Alternative splicing of this gene results in multiple transcript variants; however, not all variants have been described.