: any of various sulfur-containing fibrous proteins that form the chemical basis of horny epidermal tissues (as hair and nails) and are typically not digested by enzymes of the gastrointestinal tract—see pseudokeratin
Fibrous structural protein of hair, nails, hooves, wool, feathers, and skin. 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.