Small engineered scaffold proteins have attracted attention as probes for radionuclide-based molecular imaging. One class of these imaging probes, termed ABD-Derived Affinity Proteins (ADAPT), has been created using the albumin-binding domain (ABD) of streptococcal protein G as a stable protein scaffold. In this study, we report the development of a clinical lead probe termed ADAPT6 that binds HER2, an oncoprotein overexpressed in many breast cancers that serves as a theranostic biomarker for several approved targeting therapies. Surface-exposed amino acids of ABD were randomized to create a combinatorial library enabling selection of high-affinity binders to various proteins. Furthermore, ABD was engineered to enable rapid purification, to eradicate its binding to albumin, and to enable rapid blood clearance. Incorporation of a unique cysteine allowed site-specific conjugation to a maleimido derivative of a DOTA chelator, enabling radionuclide labeling, 111In for SPECT imaging and 68Ga for PET imaging. Pharmacologic studies in mice demonstrated that the fully engineered molecule 111In/68Ga-DOTA- (HE)3-ADAPT6 was specifically bound and taken up by HER2- expressing tumors, with a high tumor-to-normal tissue ratio in xenograft models of human cancer. Unbound tracer underwent rapid renal clearance followed by high renal reabsorption. HER2- expressing xenografts were visualized by gamma-camera or PET at 1 hour after infusion. PET experiments demonstrated feasibility for discrimination of xenografts with high or low HER2 expression. Our results offer a preclinical proof of concept for the use of ADAPT probes for noninvasive in vivo imaging.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research