Protein scaffold-based molecular probes for cancer molecular imaging.
ABSTRACT: Protein scaffold molecules are powerful reagents for targeting various cell signal receptors, enzymes, cytokines and other cancer-related molecules. They belong to the peptide and small protein platform with distinct properties. For the purpose of development of new generation molecular probes, various protein scaffold molecules have been labeled with imaging moieties and evaluated both in vitro and in vivo. Among the evaluated probes Affibody molecules and analogs, cystine knot peptides, and nanobodies have shown especially good characteristics as protein scaffold platforms for development of in vivo molecular probes. Quantitative data obtained from positron emission tomography, single photon emission computed tomography/CT, and optical imaging together with biodistribution studies have shown high tumor uptakes and high tumor-to-blood ratios for these probes. High tumor contrast imaging has been obtained within 1 h after injection. The success of those molecular probes demonstrates the adequacy of protein scaffold strategy as a general approach in molecular probe development.
Project description:Affibody molecules are engineered scaffold proteins, which demonstrated excellent binding to selected tumor-associated molecular abnormalities in vivo and highly sensitive and specific radionuclide imaging of Her2-expressing tumors in clinics. Recently, we have shown that peptide nucleic acid (PNA)-mediated affibody-based pretargeted radionuclide therapy using beta-emitting radionuclide 177Lu extended significantly survival of mice bearing human Her2-expressing tumor xenografts. In this study, we evaluated two approaches to use positron emission tomography (PET) for stratification of patients for affibody-based pretargeting therapy. The primary targeting probe ZHER2:342-SR-HP1 and the secondary probe HP2 (both conjugated with DOTA chelator) were labeled with the positron-emitting radionuclide 68Ga. Biodistribution of both probes was measured in BALB/C nu/nu mice bearing either SKOV-3 xenografts with high Her2 expression or DU-145 xenografts with low Her2 expression. 68Ga-HP2 was evaluated in the pretargeting setting. Tumor uptake of both probes was compared with the uptake of pretargeted 177Lu-HP2. The uptake of both 68Ga-ZHER2:342-SR-HP1 and 68Ga-HP2 depended on Her2-expression level providing clear discrimination of between tumors with high and low Her2 expression. Tumor uptake of 68Ga-HP2 correlated better with the uptake of 177Lu-HP2 than the uptake of 68Ga-ZHER2:342-SR-HP1. The use of 68Ga-HP2 as a theranostics counterpart would be preferable approach for clinical translation.
Project description:Human epidermal growth factor receptor 3 (HER3) has been increasingly scrutinized as a potential drug target since the elucidation of its role in mediating tumor growth and acquired therapy resistance. Affibody molecules are so-called scaffold proteins with favorable biophysical properties, such as a small size for improved tissue penetration and extravasation, thermal and chemical stability, and a high tolerance to modifications. Additionally, affibody molecules are efficiently produced in prokaryotic hosts or by chemical peptide synthesis. We have previously evaluated the biodistribution profiles of five mono- and bivalent anti-HER3 affibody molecules (designated as 3) fused to an albumin-binding domain (designated as A), 3A, 33A, 3A3, A33, and A3, that inhibit ligand-dependent phosphorylation. In the present study, we examined the therapeutic efficacy of the three most promising variants, 3A, 33A, and 3A3, in a direct comparison with the HER3-targeting monoclonal antibody seribantumab (MM-121) in a preclinical BxPC-3 pancreatic cancer model. Xenografted mice were treated with either an affibody construct or MM-121 and the tumor growth was compared to a vehicle group. Receptor occupancy was estimated by positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) imaging using a HER3-targeting affibody imaging agent [68Ga]Ga-(HE)3-Z08698-NODAGA. The affibody molecules could inhibit ligand-dependent phosphorylation and cell proliferation in vitro and demonstrated tumor growth inhibition in vivo comparable to that of MM-121. PET/CT imaging showed full receptor occupancy for all tested drug candidates. Treatment with 3A and 3A3 affibody constructs was more efficient than with 33A and similar to the anti-HER3 antibody seribantumab, showing that the molecular design of affibody-based therapeutics targeting HER3 in terms of the relative position of functional domains and valency has an impact on therapeutic effect.
Project description:Human epidermal growth factor receptor 3 (HER3) is involved in the progression of various cancers and in resistance to therapies targeting the HER family. In vivo imaging of HER3 expression would enable patient stratification for anti-HER3 immunotherapy. Key challenges with HER3-targeting are the relatively low expression in HER3-positive tumours and HER3 expression in normal tissues. The use of positron-emission tomography (PET) provides advantages of high resolution, sensitivity and quantification accuracy compared to SPECT. Affibody molecules, imaging probes based on a non-immunoglobulin scaffold, provide high imaging contrast shortly after injection. The aim of this study was to evaluate feasibility of PET imaging of HER3 expression using (68)Ga-labeled affibody molecules. The anti-HER3 affibody molecule HEHEHE-Z08698-NOTA was successfully labelled with (68)Ga with high yield, purity and stability. The agent bound specifically to HER3-expressing cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. At 3 h pi, uptake of (68)Ga-HEHEHE-Z08698-NOTA was significantly higher in xenografts with high HER3 expression (BT474, BxPC-3) than in xenografts with low HER3 expression (A431). In xenografts with high expression, tumour-to-blood ratios were >20, tumour-to-muscle >15, and tumour-to-bone >7. HER3-positive xenografts were visualised using microPET 3 h pi. In conclusion, PET imaging of HER3 expression is feasible using (68)Ga-HEHEHE-Z08698-NOTA shortly after administration.
Project description:Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is overexpressed in a number of cancers and is the molecular target for several anti-cancer therapeutics. Radionuclide molecular imaging of EGFR expression should enable personalization of anti-cancer treatment. Affibody molecule is a promising type of high-affinity imaging probes based on a non-immunoglobulin scaffold. A series of derivatives of the anti-EGFR affibody molecule ZEGFR:2377, having peptide-based cysteine-containing chelators for conjugation of 99mTc, was designed and evaluated. It was found that glutamate-containing chelators Gly-Gly-Glu-Cys (GGEC), Gly-Glu-Glu-Cys (GEEC) and Glu-Glu-Glu-Cys (EEEC) provide the best labeling stability. The glutamate containing conjugates bound to EGFR-expressing cells specifically and with high affinity. Specific targeting of EGFR-expressing xenografts in mice was demonstrated. The number of glutamate residues in the chelator had strong influence on biodistribution of radiolabeled affibody molecules. Increase of glutamate content was associated with lower uptake in normal tissues. The 99mTc-labeled variant containing the EEEC chelator provided the highest tumor-to-organ ratios. In conclusion, optimizing the composition of peptide-based chelators enhances contrast of imaging of EGFR-expression using affibody molecules.
Project description:The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) serves as an attractive target for cancer molecular imaging and therapy. Our previous positron emission tomography (PET) studies showed that the EGFR-targeting affibody molecules (64)Cu-DOTA-ZEGFR:1907 and (18)F-FBEM-ZEGFR:1907 can discriminate between high and low EGFR-expression tumors and have the potential for patient selection for EGFR-targeted therapy. Compared with (64)Cu, (18)F may improve imaging of EGFR-expression and is more suitable for clinical application, but the labeling reaction of (18)F-FBEM-ZEGFR:1907 requires a long synthesis time. The aim of the present study is to develop a new generation of (18)F labeled affibody probes (Al(18)F-NOTA-ZEGFR:1907 and (18)F-CBT-ZEGFR:1907) and to determine whether they are suitable agents for imaging of EGFR expression. The first approach consisted of conjugating ZEGFR:1907 with NOTA and radiolabeling with Al(18)F to produce Al(18)F-NOTA-ZEGFR:1907. In a second approach the prosthetic group (18)F-labeled-2-cyanobenzothiazole ((18)F-CBT) was conjugated to Cys-ZEGFR:1907 to produce (18)F-CBT-ZEGFR:1907. Binding affinity and specificity of Al(18)F-NOTA-ZEGFR:1907 and (18)F-CBT-ZEGFR:1907 to EGFR were evaluated using A431 cells. Biodistribution and PET studies were conducted on mice bearing A431 xenografts after injection of Al(18)F-NOTA-ZEGFR:1907 or (18)F-CBT-ZEGFR:1907 with or without coinjection of unlabeled affibody proteins. The radiosyntheses of Al(18)F-NOTA-ZEGFR:1907 and (18)F-CBT-ZEGFR:1907 were completed successfully within 40 and 120 min with a decay-corrected yield of 15% and 41% using a 2-step, 1-pot reaction and 2-step, 2-pot reaction, respectively. Both probes bound to EGFR with low nanomolar affinity in A431 cells. Although (18)F-CBT-ZEGFR:1907 showed instability in vivo, biodistribution studies revealed rapid and high tumor accumulation and quick clearance from normal tissues except the bones. In contrast, Al(18)F-NOTA-ZEGFR:1907 demonstrated high in vitro and in vivo stability, high tumor uptake, and relative low uptake in most of the normal organs except the liver and kidneys at 3 h after injection. The specificity of both probes for A431 tumors was confirmed by their lower uptake on coinjection of unlabeled affibody. PET studies showed that Al(18)F-NOTA-ZEGFR:1907 and (18)F-CBT-ZEGFR:1907 could clearly identify EGFR positive tumors with good contrast. Two strategies for (18)F-labeling of affibody molecules were successfully developed as two model platforms using NOTA or CBT coupling to affibody molecules that contain an N-terminal cysteine. Al(18)F-NOTA-ZEGFR:1907 and (18)F-CBT-ZEGFR:1907 can be reliably obtained in a relatively short time. Biodistribution and PET studies demonstrated that Al(18)F-NOTA-ZEGFR:1907 is a promising PET probe for imaging EGFR expression in living mice.
Project description:HER3-binding affibody molecules are a promising format for visualization of HER3 expression. Cobalt-55, a positron-emitting isotope, with a half-life of 17.5 h, allows for next-day imaging. We investigated the influence of the charge of the radiocobalt-chelator complex on the biodistribution of anti-HER3 affibody molecule (HE)3-ZHER3 and compared the best radiocobalt-labeled variant with a recently optimized gallium-labeled variant. Affibody conjugates (HE)3-ZHER3-X (X = NOTA, NODAGA, DOTA, DOTAGA) were labeled with [57Co]Co (surrogate for 55Co). Affinity measurements, binding specificity and cellular processing were studied in two HER3-expressing cancer cell lines. Biodistribution was studied 3 and 24 h post-injection (pi) in mice with HER3-expressing BxPC-3 xenografts and compared to [68Ga]Ga-(HE)3-ZHER3-NODAGA. Micro-single-photon emission tomography/computed tomography (microSPECT/CT) and micro-positron emission tomography/computed tomography (microPET/CT) imaging was performed 3 and 24 h pi. Stably labeled conjugates bound to HER3 with subnanomolar affinity. [57Co]Co-(HE)3-ZHER3-DOTA had the best tumor retention and a significantly lower concentration in blood than other conjugates, leading to superior tumor-to-blood and tumor-to-liver ratios 24 h pi. Compared to [68Ga]Ga-(HE)3-ZHER3-NODAGA 3 h pi, [57Co]Co-(HE)3-ZHER3-DOTA provided superior imaging contrast in liver 24 h pi. Concluding, the composition and charge of the [57Co]Co-chelator complex influenced the uptake in tumors and normal tissue. [57Co]Co-(HE)3-ZHER3-DOTA provided the best imaging properties among the cobalt-labeled conjugates. Delayed imaging of HER3 expression with [57Co]Co-(HE)3-ZHER3-DOTA improved imaging contrast compared to early-time-point imaging with [68Ga]Ga-(HE)3-ZHER3-NODAGA.
Project description:Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection is closely linked to several human malignancies including endemic Burkitt's lymphoma, Hodgkin's lymphoma and nasopharyngeal carcinomas (NPC). Latent membrane protein 2 (LMP-2) of EBV plays a pivotal role in pathogenesis of EBV-related tumors and thus, is a potential target for diagnosis and targeted therapy of EBV LMP-2+ malignant cancers. Affibody molecules are developing as imaging probes and tumor-targeted delivery of small molecules. In this study, four EBV LMP-2-binding affibodies (ZEBV LMP-212, ZEBV LMP-2132, ZEBV LMP-2137, and ZEBV LMP-2142) were identified by screening a phage-displayed LMP-2 peptide library for molecular imaging and targeted therapy in EBV xenograft mice model. ZEBV LMP-2 affibody has high binding affinity for EBV LMP-2 and accumulates in mouse tumor derived from EBV LMP-2+ xenografts for 24 h after intravenous (IV) injection. Subsequent fusion of Pseudomonas exotoxin PE38KDEL to the ZEBV LMP-2 142 affibody led to production of Z142X affitoxin. This fused Z142X affitoxin exhibits high cytotoxicity specific for EBV+ cells in vitro and significant antitumor effect in mice bearing EBV+ tumor xenografts by IV injection. The data provide the proof of principle that EBV LMP-2-speicifc affibody molecules are useful for molecular imaging diagnosis and have potentials for targeted therapy of LMP-2-expressing EBV malignancies.
Project description:Affibody molecules are small (58 amino acids) engineered scaffold proteins that can be selected to bind to a large variety of proteins with a high affinity. Their small size and high affinity make them attractive as targeting vectors for molecular imaging. High-affinity affibody binders have been selected for several cancer-associated molecular targets. Preclinical studies have shown that radiolabeled affibody molecules can provide highly specific and sensitive imaging on the day of injection; however, for a few targets, imaging on the next day further increased the imaging sensitivity. A phase I/II clinical trial showed that 68Ga-labeled affibody molecules permit an accurate and specific measurement of HER2 expression in breast cancer metastases. This paper provides an overview of the factors influencing the biodistribution and targeting properties of affibody molecules and the chemistry of their labeling using positron emitters.
Project description:Cervical cancer caused by infection with high-risk human papillomavirus remains to be the most deadly gynecologic malignancy worldwide. It is well documented that persistent expression of two oncogenes (E6/E7) plays the key roles in cervical cancer. Thus, in vivo detection of the oncoproteins is very important for the diagnosis of the cancer. Recently, affibody molecules have been demonstrated to be a powerful targeting probe for tumor-targeted imaging and diagnosis. In this study, four HPV16 E7-binding affibody molecules (Z HPV16 E7127, Z HPV16E7301, Z HPV16E7384 and Z HPV16E7745) were screened from a phage-displayed peptide library and used for molecular imaging in tumor-bearing mice. Biosensor binding analyses showed first that the four affibody molecules bound to HPV16 E7 with very high affinity and specificity. They co-localized with E7 protein only in two HPV16-positive cancer cells (SiHa and CaSki). Furthermore, affibody ZHPV16E7384 was conjugated with Dylight755 and used for in vivo tumor-imaging. Strongly high-contrast tumor retention of this affibody only occurred in HPV16-derived tumors of mice as early as 30 min post-injection, not in HPV-negative and HPV18-derived tumors. The accumulation of Dylight755-conjugated ZHPV16E7384 in tumor was achieved over a longer time period (24 h). The data here provide strong evidence that E7-specific affibody molecules have great potential used for molecular imaging and diagnosis of HPV-induced cancers.
Project description:A highly monodispersed hetero-nanostructure with two different functional nanomaterials (gold (Au) and iron oxide (Fe(3)O(4,) IO)) within one structure was successfully developed as Affibody based trimodality nanoprobe (positron emission tomography, PET; optical imaging; and magnetic resonance imaging, MRI) for imaging of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) positive tumors. Unlike other regular nanostructures with a single component, the Au-IO hetero-nanostructures (Au-IONPs) with unique chemical and physical properties have capability to combine several imaging modalities together to provide complementary information. The IO component within hetero-nanostructures serve as a T(2) reporter for MRI; and gold component serve as both optical and PET reporters. Moreover, such hetero-nanoprobes could provide a robust nano-platform for surface-specific modification with both targeting molecules (anti-EGFR Affibody protein) and PET imaging reporters (radiometal (64)Cu chelators) in highly efficient and reliable manner. In vitro and in vivo study showed that the resultant nanoprobe provided high specificity, sensitivity, and excellent tumor contrast for both PET and MRI imaging in the human EGFR-expressing cells and tumors. Our study data also highlighted the EGFR targeting efficiency of hetero-nanoparticles and the feasibility for their further theranostic applications.