Abstract 0370


Stefan, N., Zimmermann, M., Simon, M., Zangemeister-Wittke, U., and Plückthun, A. (2014). Novel prodrug-like fusion toxin with protease-sensitive bioorthogonal PEGylation for tumor targeting. Bioconjug Chem 25, 2144-2156.


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.


Supplement 0370

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