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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Improving TCO-Conjugated Antibody Reactivity for Bioorthogonal Pretargeting

  • Author(s): Chu, Tina Tingyi
  • Advisor(s): Haun, Jered B
  • et al.

Cancer remains a major cause of death because of its unpredictable progression. Utilizing bioorthogonal chemistry between trans-cyclooctene (TCO) and tetrazine to target imaging agents to tumors in two subsequent steps offers a more versatile platform for molecular imaging. This is accomplished by pretargeting TCO-modified primary antibody to cell surface biomarkers, followed by delivery of tetrazine-modified imaging probes. In previous work, it has been established that TCO-tetrazine chemistry can be applied to in vivo imaging, resulting in precise tumor detection. However, most TCO modifications on an antibody are not reactive because they are buried within hydrophobic domains. To expose and improve the reactivity, Rahim et al. incorporated a polyethylene glycol (PEG) linker through a two-step reaction with DBCO-azide, which successfully maintained 100% TCO functionality. In this project, various types of linkers were studied to improve the reactivity in a single step. Three primary types of linkers were studied: hydrophilic PEG chains, hydrophobic short linkers, and amphiphilic linkers. Our results show that PEG chain alone can only maintain 40% TCO reactivity. Unexpectedly, a short alkyl chain (valeric acid) provided superior results, with 60% TCO reactivity. Lengthening the alkyl chain did not improve results further. Finally, an amphiphilic linker containing valeric acid and PEG performed worse than either linker type alone, at ~30% functionality. We conclude that our previous 100% functional TCO result obtained with the two-step coupling may have stemmed from generation of the DBCO/azide cycloaddition product. Future work will explore factors such as rigidity of linker structure, polarity, or charges.

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