This gene is a member of the type II keratin family clustered on the long arm of chromosome 12. Type I and type II keratins heteropolymerize to form intermediate-sized filaments in the cytoplasm of epithelial cells. The product of this gene typically dimerizes with keratin 18 to form an intermediate filament in simple single-layered epithelial cells. This protein plays a role in maintaining cellular structural integrity and also functions in signal transduction and cellular differentiation. Mutations in this gene cause cryptogenic cirrhosis. Alternatively spliced transcript variants have been found for this gene.