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Novel prodrug-like fusion toxin with protease-sensitive bioorthogonal PEGylation for tumor targeting


Stefan, Nikolas; Zimmermann, Martina; Simon, Manuel; Zangemeister-Wittke, Uwe; Plückthun, Andreas (2014). Novel prodrug-like fusion toxin with protease-sensitive bioorthogonal PEGylation for tumor targeting. Bioconjugate Chemistry, 25(12):2144-2156.

Abstract

Highly potent biotoxins like Pseudomonas exotoxin A (ETA) are attractive payloads for tumor targeting. However, despite replacement of the natural cell-binding domain of ETA by tumor-selective antibodies or alternative binding proteins like designed ankyrin repeat proteins (DARPins) the therapeutic window of such fusion toxins is still limited by target-independent cellular uptake, resulting in toxicity in normal tissues. Furthermore, the strong immunogenicity of the bacterial toxin precludes repeated administration in most patients. Site-specific modification to convert ETA into a prodrug-like toxin which is reactivated specifically in the tumor, and at the same time has a longer circulation half-life and is less immunogenic, is therefore appealing. To engineer a prodrug-like fusion toxin consisting of the anti-EpCAM DARPin Ec1 and a domain I-deleted variant of ETA (ETA″), we used strain-promoted azide alkyne cycloaddition for bioorthogonal conjugation of linear or branched polyethylene glycol (PEG) polymers at defined positions within the toxin moiety. Reversibility of the shielding was provided by a designed peptide linker containing the cleavage site for the rhinovirus 3C model protease. We identified two distinct sites, one within the catalytic domain and one close to the C-terminal KDEL sequence of Ec1-ETA″, simultaneous PEGylation of which resulted in up to 1000-fold lower cytotoxicity in EpCAM-positive tumor cells. Importantly, the potency of the fusion toxin was fully restored by proteolytic unveiling. Upon systemic administration in mice, PEGylated Ec1-ETA″ was much better tolerated than Ec1-ETA″; it showed a longer circulation half-life and an almost 10-fold increased area under the curve (AUC). Our strategy of engineering prodrug-like fusion toxins by bioorthogonal veiling opens new possibilities for targeting tumors with more specificity and efficacy.

Abstract

Highly potent biotoxins like Pseudomonas exotoxin A (ETA) are attractive payloads for tumor targeting. However, despite replacement of the natural cell-binding domain of ETA by tumor-selective antibodies or alternative binding proteins like designed ankyrin repeat proteins (DARPins) the therapeutic window of such fusion toxins is still limited by target-independent cellular uptake, resulting in toxicity in normal tissues. Furthermore, the strong immunogenicity of the bacterial toxin precludes repeated administration in most patients. Site-specific modification to convert ETA into a prodrug-like toxin which is reactivated specifically in the tumor, and at the same time has a longer circulation half-life and is less immunogenic, is therefore appealing. To engineer a prodrug-like fusion toxin consisting of the anti-EpCAM DARPin Ec1 and a domain I-deleted variant of ETA (ETA″), we used strain-promoted azide alkyne cycloaddition for bioorthogonal conjugation of linear or branched polyethylene glycol (PEG) polymers at defined positions within the toxin moiety. Reversibility of the shielding was provided by a designed peptide linker containing the cleavage site for the rhinovirus 3C model protease. We identified two distinct sites, one within the catalytic domain and one close to the C-terminal KDEL sequence of Ec1-ETA″, simultaneous PEGylation of which resulted in up to 1000-fold lower cytotoxicity in EpCAM-positive tumor cells. Importantly, the potency of the fusion toxin was fully restored by proteolytic unveiling. Upon systemic administration in mice, PEGylated Ec1-ETA″ was much better tolerated than Ec1-ETA″; it showed a longer circulation half-life and an almost 10-fold increased area under the curve (AUC). Our strategy of engineering prodrug-like fusion toxins by bioorthogonal veiling opens new possibilities for targeting tumors with more specificity and efficacy.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Biochemistry
07 Faculty of Science > Department of Biochemistry
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
Language:English
Date:17 December 2014
Deposited On:22 Jan 2015 13:03
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 18:44
Publisher:American Chemical Society
ISSN:1043-1802
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1021/bc500468s
PubMed ID:25350699

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