/ker"euh tin/, n.a scleroprotein or albuminoid substance, found in the dead outer skin layer, and in horn, hair, feathers, hoofs, nails, claws, bills, etc.[1840-50; KERAT- + -IN2]
* * *A quarter of the amino acids in keratin are cystine, whose ability to form strong bridging (disulfide) bonds with other cystine units accounts for keratin's great stability. Keratin does not dissolve in cold or hot water and does not easily undergo proteolysis. Its fibres are 10–12% longer at maximum water content (about 16%) than when dry. The sulfurous smell of burning keratin is distinctive.
* * *▪ biologyfibrous structural protein of hair, nails, horn, hoofs, wool, feathers, and of the epithelial cells in the outermost layers of the skin. The polypeptide chains of keratin are arranged in parallel sheets held together by hydrogen bonding.Of the amino acids in keratin, cystine may account for as much as 24 percent. The numerous disulfide bonds formed by cystine are responsible for the great stability of keratin: it is completely insoluble in hot or cold water and is not attacked by proteolytic enzymes (the enzymes that cleave protein molecules).The length of keratin fibres depends on their water content: complete hydration (approximately 16 percent water) increases their length by 10 to 12 percent.
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