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Incorporation of a Triglutamyl Spacer Improves the Biodistribution of Synthetic Affibody Molecules Radiofluorinated at the N-Terminus via Oxime Formation with F-18-4-Fluorobenzaldehyde
KTH, School of Biotechnology (BIO), Protein Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4409-9236
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2014 (English)In: Bioconjugate chemistry, ISSN 1043-1802, E-ISSN 1520-4812, Vol. 25, no 1, 82-92 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Affibody molecules are a class of affinity agents for molecular imaging based on a non-immunoglobulin protein scaffold. Previous studies have demonstrated high contrast for in vivo imaging of cancer-associated molecular abnormalities using Affibody molecules. Using the radionuclide F-18 for labeling and PET as the imaging modality, the sensitivity of molecular imaging using Affibody molecules can be further increased. The use of oxime formation between an aminooxy-functionalized peptide and F-18-fluorobenzaldehyde (F-18-FBA) is a promising way of radiolabeling of targeting peptides. However, previous studies demonstrated that application of this method to Affibody molecules is associated with high liver uptake. We hypothesized that incorporation of a triglutamyl spacer between the aminooxy moiety and the N-terminus of a synthetic Affibody molecule would decrease the hepatic uptake of the F-18-N-(4-fluorobenzylidine)oxime) (F-18-FBO)-labeled tracer. To verify this, we have produced two variants of the HER2-targeting Z(HER2:342) Affibody molecule by peptide synthesis: OA-PEP4313, where aminooxyacetic acid was conjugated directly to the N-terminal alanine, and OA-E-3-PEP4313, where a triglutamyl spacer was introduced between the aminooxy moiety and the N-terminus. We have found that the use of the spacer is associated with a minor decrease of affinity, from K-D = 49 pM to K-D = 180 pM. Radiolabeled F-18-FBO-E-3-PEP4313 demonstrated specific binding to HER2-expressing ovarian carcinoma SKOV-3 cells and slow internalization. Biodistribution studies in mice demonstrated that the use of a triglutamyl linker decreased uptake of radioactivity in liver 2.7-fold at 2 h after injection. Interestingly, radioactivity uptake in kidneys was also reduced (2.4-fold). Experiments in BALB/C nu/nu mice bearing SKOV-3 xenografts demonstrated HER2-specific uptake of F-18-FBO-E-3-PEP4313 in tumors. At 2 h pi, the tumor uptake (20 +/- 2% ID/g) exceeded uptake in liver 5-fold and uptake in kidneys 3.6-fold. The tumor-to-blood ratio was 21 +/- 3. The microPET/CT imaging experiment confirmed the biodistribution data. In conclusion, the use of a triglutamyl spacer is a convenient way to improve the biodistribution profile of Affibody molecules labeled at the N-terminus using F-18-FBA. It provides a tracer capable of producing high-contrast images of HER2-expressing tumors.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 25, no 1, 82-92 p.
Keyword [en]
Positron-Emission-Tomography, In-Vivo, Anti-Her2 Affibody, Labeling Methods, Her2 Expression, Immuno-Pet, Peptides, Affinity, Proteins, Receptor
National Category
Medical Laboratory and Measurements Technologies
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-117890DOI: 10.1021/bc400343rISI: 000330018400011ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84892751639OAI: diva2:603512
Swedish Cancer SocietySwedish Research CouncilVinnova

QC 20140221. Updated from manuscript to article in journal.

Available from: 2013-02-06 Created: 2013-02-06 Last updated: 2014-03-17Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. On the Design of Affibody Molecules for Radiolabeling and In Vivo Molecular Imaging
Open this publication in new window or tab >>On the Design of Affibody Molecules for Radiolabeling and In Vivo Molecular Imaging
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Affibody molecules have lately shown great potential as tools for in vivo molecular imaging. These small, 3-helical bundles, with their highly stable protein scaffold, are well suited for the often harsh conditions of radiolabeling. Their small size allows for rapid clearance from the blood circulation which permits the collection of images already within hours after injection. This thesis includes four papers aimed at engineering different variants of a HER2-binding Affibody molecule to enable effective  and  flexible  radiolabeling  and  enhancing  the  molecular  imaging  in  terms  of  imaging contrast and resolution.

In paper I an Affibody molecule was engineered to function as a multifunctional platform for site-specific labeling with different nuclides for radionuclide imaging. This was done using only natural amino  acids,  thereby  allowing  for  both  synthetic  and  recombinant  production.  By  grafting  the amino acid sequence -GSECG to the C-terminal of our model-protein, a HER2-binding Affibody molecule, we enabled site specific labeling with both trivalent radiometals and with  99m Tc. Maleim-ide-DOTA was conjugated to the cysteine residue for labeling with  111 In, while the peptide sequence was able to chelate  99m Tc directly. This approach can also be used for site-specific labeling with other probes available for thiol-chemistry, and is applicable also to other protein scaffolds.

In paper II we investigated the impact of size and affinity of radiolabeled Affibody molecules on tumor targeting and image contrast. Two HER2-targeting Affibody molecules, a two-helix (~5 kDa) and a three-helix (~7 kDa) counterpart, were synthetically produced, labeled with  111 In via chelation by  DOTA  and  directly  compared  in  terms  of  biodistribution  and  targeting  properties.  Results showed  that  the  smaller  variant  can  provide  higher  contrast  images,  at  the  cost  of  lower  tumor uptake,  in  high-expressing  HER2-tumors.  However,  neither  the  tumor  uptake  nor  the  contrast of the two-helix variant is sufficient to compete with the three-helix molecule in tumors with low expression of HER2.

In paper III and IV we were aiming to find methods to improve the labeling of Affibody molecules with  18 F for PET imaging. Current methods are either complex, time-consuming or generate heavily lipophilic conjugates. This results in low yields of radiolabeled tracer, low specific activity left for imaging, undesirable biodistribution or a combination thereof. In paper III we demonstrate a swift and efficient 2-step, 1-pot method for labeling HER2-binding Affibody molecules by the formation of aluminum  18 F-fluoride (Al 18 F) and its chelation by NOTA, all in 30 min. The results show that the  18 F-NOTA-approach is a very promising method of labeling Affibody molecules with  18 F and further investigation of this scheme is highly motivated. In the last paper we pursued the possibility of decreasing the high kidney retention that is common among small radiotracers with residual-izing radiometabolites. In this work  18 F-4-fluorobenzaldehyde (FBA) was conjugated to a synthetic HER2-targeting Affibody molecule via oxime ligation. However, to avoid elevated liver retention, as seen in previous studies with this kind of label, a hydrophilic triglutamyl spacer between the aminooxy moiety and the N-terminal was introduced. A comparison of the two constructs (with and without the triglutamyl spacer) showed a clear reduction of retention in both kidney and liver in NMRI mice at 2 h p.i. when the spacer was included. In the light of these promising results, further studies including tumor-bearing mice, are in preparation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2013. xi, 55 p.
Trita-BIO-Report, ISSN 1654-2312
Affibody molecule, AC/DC, radionuclide molecular imaging, HER2, SPECT, PET, biodistribution, peptide synthesis, radiolabeling
National Category
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Research subject
SRA - Molecular Bioscience
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-117862 (URN)978-91-7501-635-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-03-08, F2, Lindstedtsvägen 28, KTH, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)

QC 20130203

Available from: 2013-02-06 Created: 2013-02-05 Last updated: 2013-02-06Bibliographically approved

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