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Cell Prolif. 1996 Jan;29(1):1-12.

Molecular characterization of the gene locus of the human cell proliferation-associated nuclear protein defined by monoclonal antibody Ki-67.

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  • 1Department of Immunology and Cell Biology, Forschungszentrum Borstel, Germany.


The human antigen defined by the monoclonal antibody Ki-67, the 'Ki-67 protein', is an ubiquitously expressed human nuclear protein strictly associated with cell proliferation and is widely used in routine pathology as a 'proliferation marker' to measure the growth fraction in human tumours. In immunoblots of proteins from proliferating cells, Ki-67 detects two bands with the apparent molecular weights of 345 and 395 kDa. Recently we reported on the cloning and sequencing of the complete cDNA of the Ki-67 protein. We found two isoforms of cDNA with full lengths of 11.4 and 12.5 kb, respectively, likely formed by the alternative splicing of exon 7. The remarkable exon 13 at the 'centre' of this gene contains 16 homologous segments of 366 bp (Ki-67 repeats), each including a highly conserved new motif of 66 bp (Ki-67 motif). Computer analyses confirmed that the cDNAs encode for a new class of nuclear proteins. The complete gene locus of the Ki-67 protein, comprising a 74 bp 5' region and a 264 bp 3' region, has been sequenced and aligned to a continuous sequence of 29,965 bp length located on chromosome 10q25-ter. The gene is organized in 15 exons with sizes from 67 to 6845 bp and in 14 introns with sizes from 87 to 3569 bp. Three introns contain homologue copies of 'Alu-repeats'. Interestingly, the introns flanking the alternative spliced exon 7 are free of any consensus donor and acceptor splicing signal. All other intron-exon transitions contained a potential branch site. The complete 5' region including the first two exons represents a CpG-rich island. We found the transcription initiation site in exon two adjacent to the consensus sequence of a cap site. Upstream of this cap site no TATA- or CCAAT-box could be located, but downstream we found two remarkable directly repeated elements of 24 bp lengths each containing a TATA box in inverse orientation.

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