A class of fibrous proteins or scleroproteins important both as structural proteins and as keys to the study of protein conformation. The family represents the principal constituent of epidermis, hair, nails, horny tissues, and the organic matrix of tooth enamel. Two major conformational groups have been characterized, alpha-keratin, whose peptide backbone forms an alpha-helix, and beta-keratin, whose backbone forms a zigzag or pleated sheet structure.
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