Ki-67 protein has been widely used as a proliferation marker for human tumor cells for decades. In recent studies, multiple molecular functions of this large protein have become better understood. Ki-67 has roles in both interphase and mitotic cells, and its cellular distribution dramatically changes during cell cycle progression. These localizations correlate with distinct functions. For example, during interphase, Ki-67 is required for normal cellular distribution of heterochromatin antigens and for the nucleolar association of heterochromatin. During mitosis, Ki-67 is essential for formation of the perichromosomal layer (PCL), a ribonucleoprotein sheath coating the condensed chromosomes. In this structure, Ki-67 acts to prevent aggregation of mitotic chromosomes. Here, we present an overview of functional roles of Ki-67 across the cell cycle and also describe recent experiments that clarify its role in regulating cell cycle progression in human cells.
Keywords: Cell cycle; Heterochromatin; Ki-67; Perichromosomal layer.