A 2-helix small protein labeled with 68Ga for PET imaging of HER2 expression

Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford (MIPS), Department of Radiology and Bio-X Program, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA.
Journal of Nuclear Medicine (Impact Factor: 6.16). 09/2009; 50(9):1492-9. DOI: 10.2967/jnumed.109.064287
Source: PubMed


Affibody molecules are a class of scaffold proteins being developed into a generalizable approach to targeting tumors. Many 3-helix-based Affibody proteins have shown excellent in vivo properties for tumor imaging and therapy. By truncating one alpha-helix that is not responsible for receptor recognition in the Affibody and maturating the protein affinity through synthetic strategies, we have successfully identified in our previous research several small 2-helix proteins with excellent binding affinities to human epidermal growth factor receptor type 2 (HER2). With preferential properties such as faster blood clearance and tumor accumulation, lower immunogenic potential, and facile and economically viable synthetic schemes, we hypothesized that these 2-helix protein binders could become excellent molecular imaging probes for monitoring HER2 expression and modulation.
In this study, a 2-helix small protein, MUT-DS, was chemically modified with a metal chelator, 1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane-1,4,7,10-tetraacetic acid (DOTA). DOTA-MUT-DS was then site-specifically radiolabeled with an important PET radionuclide, (68)Ga. The resulting radiolabeled anti-HER2 2-helix molecule was further evaluated as a potential molecular probe for small-animal PET HER2 imaging in a SKOV3 tumor mouse model.
The 2-helix DOTA-MUT-DS showed high HER2-binding affinity (dissociation constant, 4.76 nM). The radiolabeled probe displayed high stability in mouse serum and specificity toward HER2 in cell cultures. Biodistribution and small-animal PET studies further showed that (68)Ga-DOTA-MUT-DS had rapid and high SKOV3 tumor accumulation and quick clearance from normal organs. The specificity of (68)Ga-DOTA-MUT-DS for SKOV3 tumors was confirmed by monitoring modulation of HER2 protein on treatment of tumor mice with heat shock protein 90 inhibitor 17-N,N-dimethyl ethylene diamine-geldanamycin in vivo.
This proof-of-concept research clearly demonstrated that synthetic 2-helix (68)Ga-DOTA-MUT-DS is a promising PET probe for imaging HER2 expression in vivo. The Affibody-derived small 2-helix protein scaffold has great potential for developing targeting agents for a variety of tumor-associated biomarkers.

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    • "68Ga is available from an in-house generator rendering 68Ga radiopharmacy independent of an on-site cyclotron, which is a big advantage for clinical use. 68Ga-labeled peptides have been developed for the targeting of somatostatin receptors, the melanocortin 1 receptor, the bombesin receptor, HER2 receptor and so forth [21, 22]. 64Cu is another widely used metallic positron emitter, which can be produced on a large scale with a medical cyclotron, and the half-life (12.7 h) and decay properties make it an ideal radioisotope for PET imaging and radiotherapy [23, 24]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Positron emission tomography (PET) is a powerful noninvasive tool for acquisition of the physiological parameters in human and animals with the help of PET tracers. Among all the PET tracers, radiolabeled peptides have been widely explored for cancer-related receptor imaging due to their high affinity and specificity to receptors. But radiochemistry procedures for production of peptide-based PET tracers are usually complex, which makes large-scale clinical studies relatively challenging. New radiolabeling technologies which could simplify synthesis and purification procedures, are extremely needed. Over the last decade, microfluidics and lab-on-a-chip (LOC) technology have boomed as powerful tools in the field of organic chemistry, which potentially provide significant help to the PET chemistry. In this minireview, microfluidic radiolabeling technology is described and its application for synthesis of peptide-based PET tracers is summarized and discussed.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013
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    • "Affibody molecules is suitable for imaging of abundantly expressed HER2 [4] [15] [16] [17] [18] [31]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction: Affibody molecules, small scaffold proteins, have demonstrated an appreciable potential as imaging probes. Affibody molecules are composed of three alpha-helices. Helices 1 and 2 are involved in molecular recognition, while helix 3 provides stability. The size of Affibody molecules can be reduced by omitting the third alpha-helix and cross-linking the two remaining, providing a smaller molecule with better extravasation and quicker clearance of unbound tracer. The goal of this study was to develop a novel 2-helix Affibody molecule based on backbone cyclization by native chemical ligation (NCL). Methods: The HER2-targeting NCL-cyclized Affibody molecule ZHER2:342min has been designed, synthesized and site-specifically conjugated with a DOTA chelator. DOTA-ZHER2:342min was labeled with (111)In and (68)Ga. The binding affinity of DOTA-ZHER2:342min was evaluated in vitro. The targeting properties of (111)In- and (68)Ga-DOTA-ZHER2:342min were evaluated in mice bearing SKOV-3 xenografts and compared with the properties of (111)In- and (68)Ga-labeled PEP09239, a DOTA-conjugated 2-helix Affibody analogue cyclized by a homocysteine disulfide bridge. Results: The dissociation constant (KD) for DOTA-ZHER2:342min binding to HER2 was 18nM according to SPR measurements. DOTA-ZHER2:342min was labeled with (111)In and (68)Ga. Both conjugates demonstrated bi-phasic binding kinetics to HER2-expressing cells, with KD1 in low nanomolar range. Both variants demonstrated specific uptake in HER2-expressing xenografts. Tumor-to-blood ratios at 2h p.i. were 6.1±1.3 for (111)In- DOTA-ZHER2:342min and 4.6±0.7 for (68)Ga-DOTA-ZHER2:342min. However, the uptake of DOTA-ZHER2:342min in lung, liver and spleen was appreciably higher than the uptake of PEP09239-based counterparts. Conclusions: Native chemical ligation enables production of a backbone-cyclized HER2-binding 2-helix Affibody molecule (ZHER2:342min) with low nanomolar target affinity and specific tumor uptake.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2013 · Nuclear Medicine and Biology
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    • "We postulate that at lower temperature no full N-coordination occurs. This means that the 68Ga atom becomes ligated to the carboxyl functions of the DOTA molecule with still having water molecules in its coordination sphere instead of N, and that only concordant heating at elevated temperatures [37, 39] creates the additional N-coordination of the DOTA molecule leading to the 68Ga-DOTA complex that is suitable for in vivo applications. This important aspect of complex formation is fully analogous to what has been shown by us for the synthesis of the 186Re-MAG3 complex [40]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose The ∼15 kDa variable domains of camelid heavy-chain-only antibodies (called Nanobodies®) have the flexibility to be formatted as monovalent, monospecific, multivalent or multispecific single chain proteins with either fast or slow pharmacokinetics. We report the evaluation of the fast kinetic anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) Nanobody 7D12, labelled with 68Ga via the novel bifunctional chelate (BFC) p-isothiocyanatobenzyl-desferrioxamine (Df-Bz-NCS). Df-Bz-NCS has recently been introduced as the chelate of choice for 89Zr immuno-positron emission tomography (PET). Methods Nanobody 7D12 was premodified with Df-Bz-NCS at pH 9. Radiolabelling with purified 68Ga was performed at pH 5.0–6.5 for 5 min at room temperature. For in vitro stability measurements in storage buffer (0.25 M NaOAc with 5 mg ml−1 gentisic acid, pH 5.5) at 4°C or in human serum at 37°C, a mixture of 67Ga and 68Ga was used. Biodistribution and immuno-PET studies of 68Ga-Df-Bz-NCS-7D12 were performed in nude mice bearing A431 xenografts using 89Zr-Df-Bz-NCS-7D12 as the reference conjugate. Results The Df-Bz-NCS chelate was conjugated to Nanobody 7D12 with a chelate to Nanobody molar substitution ratio of 0.2:1. The overall 68Ga radiochemical yield was 55–70% (not corrected for decay); specific activity was 100–500 MBq/mg. Radiochemical purity of the conjugate was >96%, while the integrity and immunoreactivity were preserved. 68/67Ga-Df-Bz-NCS-7D12 was stable in storage buffer as well as in human serum during a 5-h incubation period (
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2011 · European Journal of Nuclear Medicine
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