Colorectal keratins: Integrating nutrition, metabolism and colorectal health

Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2022 Aug;128:103-111. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2021.08.010.Epub 2021 Sep 1.


Caroline A Evans 1Bernard M Corfe 2


Author information

1ChELSI Institute, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Sheffield, Mappin St, S1 3JD Sheffield, United Kingdom.

2Population Health Sciences Institute, Human Nutrition Research Centre, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Newcastle University, Newcastle NE2 4HH, United Kingdom. Electronic address: bernard.corfe@newcastle.ac.uk.


The colon mucosa is lined with crypts of circa 300 cells, forming a continuous barrier whose roles include absorption of water, recovery of metabolic energy sources (notably short chain fatty acids), secretion of a protective mucus barrier, and physiological signalling. There is high turnover and replenishment of cells in the mucosa, disruption of this may lead to bowel pathologies including cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. Keratins have been implicated in the processes of cell death, epithelial integrity, response to inflammation and as a result are often described as guardians of the colonic epithelium. Keratin proteins carry extensive post-translational modifications, the cofactors for kinases, acetyl transferases and other modification-regulating enzymes are themselves products of metabolism. A cluster of studies has begun to reveal a bidirectional relationship between keratin form and function and metabolism. In this paper we hypothesise a mechanistic interaction between keratins and metabolism is governed through regulation of post-translational modifications and may contribute significantly to the normal functioning of the colon, placing keratins at the centre of a nutrition-metabolism-health triangle.


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