Ki-67 as a molecular target for therapy in an in vitro three-dimensional model for ovarian cancer

Ramtin Rahmanzadeh, Prakash Rai, Jonathan P. Celli, Imran Rizvi, Bettina Baron-Lühr, Johannes Gerdes, Tayyaba Hasan*

*Corresponding author for this work
46 Citations (Scopus)


Targeting molecular markers and pathways implicated in cancer cell growth is a promising avenue for developing effective therapies. Although the Ki-67 protein (pKi-67) is a key marker associated with aggressively proliferating cancer cells and poor prognosis, its full potential as a therapeutic target has never before been successfully shown. In this regard, its nuclear localization presents a major hurdle because of the need for intracellular and intranuclear delivery of targeting and therapeutic moieties. Using a liposomally encapsulated construct, we show for the first time the specific delivery of a Ki-67-directed antibody and subsequent light-triggered death in the human ovarian cancer cell line OVCAR-5. Photoimmunoconjugate-encapsulating liposomes (PICEL) were constructed from anti-pKi-67 antibodies conjugated to fluorescein 5(6)-isothiocyanate, as a photoactivatable agent, followed by encapsulation in noncationic liposomes. Nucleolar localization of the PICELs was confirmed by confocal imaging. Photodynamic activation with PICELs specifically killed pKi-67-positive cancer cells both in monolayer and in three-dimensional (3D) cultures of OVCAR-5 cells, with the antibody TuBB-9 targeting a physiologically active form of pKi-67 but not with MIB-1, directed to a different epitope. This is the first demonstration of (a) the exploitation of Ki-67 as a molecular target for therapy and (b) specific delivery of an antibody to the nucleolus in monolayer cancer cells and in an in vitro 3D model system. In view of the ubiquity of pKi-67 in proliferating cells in cancer and the specificity of targeting in 3D multicellular acini, these findings are promising and the approach merits further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCancer Research
Issue number22
Pages (from-to)9234-9242
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 15.11.2010


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