American Chemical Society
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A Dual-Labeled Knottin Peptide for PET and Near-Infrared Fluorescence Imaging of Integrin Expression in Living Subjects

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journal contribution
posted on 2010-03-17, 00:00 authored by Richard H. Kimura, Zheng Miao, Zhen Cheng, Sanjiv S. Gambhir, Jennifer R. Cochran
Previously, we used directed evolution to engineer mutants of the Ecballium elaterium trypsin inhibitor (EETI-II) knottin that bind to αvβ3 and αvβ5 integrin receptors with low nanomolar affinity, and showed that Cy5.5- or 64Cu-DOTA-labeled knottin peptides could be used to image integrin expression in mouse tumor models using near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) imaging or positron emission tomography (PET). Here, we report the development of a dual-labeled knottin peptide conjugated to both NIRF and PET imaging agents for multimodality imaging in living subjects. We created an orthogonally protected peptide-based linker for stoichiometric coupling of 64Cu-DOTA and Cy5.5 onto the knottin N-terminus and confirmed that conjugation did not affect binding to αvβ3 and αvβ5 integrins. NIRF and PET imaging studies in tumor xenograft models showed that Cy5.5 conjugation significantly increased kidney uptake and retention compared to the knottin peptide labeled with 64Cu-DOTA alone. In the tumor, the dual-labeled 64Cu-DOTA/Cy5.5 knottin peptide showed decreased wash-out leading to significantly better retention (p < 0.05) compared to the 64Cu-DOTA-labeled knottin peptide. Tumor uptake was significantly reduced (p < 0.05) when the dual-labeled knottin peptide was coinjected with an excess of unlabeled competitor and when tested in a tumor model with lower levels of integrin expression. Finally, plots of tumor-to-background tissue ratios for Cy5.5 versus 64Cu uptake were well-correlated over several time points post injection, demonstrating pharmacokinetic cross validation of imaging labels. This dual-modality NIRF/PET imaging agent is promising for further development in clinical applications where high sensitivity and high resolution are desired, such as detection of tumors located deep within the body and image-guided surgical resection.