Abstract

The Ku protein is a complex of two subunits, Ku70 and Ku80, and was originally identified as an autoantigen recognized by the sera of patients with autoimmune diseases. The Ku protein plays a key role in multiple nuclear processes, e.g., DNA repair, chromosome maintenance, transcription regulation, and V(D)J recombination. The mechanism underlying the regulation of all the diverse functions of Ku is still unclear, although it seems that Ku is a multifunctional protein that works in nuclei. On the other hand, several studies have reported cytoplasmic or cell surface localization of Ku in various cell types. To clarify the fundamental characteristics of Ku, we have examined the expression, heterodimerization, subcellular localization, chromosome location, and molecular mechanisms of the nuclear transport of Ku70 and Ku80. The mechanism that regulates for nuclear localization of Ku70 and Ku80 appears to play, at least in part, a key role in regulating the physiological function of Ku in vivo.