In addition to protecting epithelial cells from mechanical stress, keratins regulate cytoarchitecture, cell growth, proliferation, apoptosis, and organelle transport. In this issue, Vijayaraj et al. (2009. J. Cell Biol. doi:10.1083/jcb.200906094) expand our understanding of how keratin proteins participate in the regulation of protein synthesis through their analysis of mice lacking the entire type II keratin gene cluster.