Examination of Charge Modifications of an Endolysosomal Trapping Inhibitor in an Antagonistic NTSR1-Targeted Construct for Colon Cancer

Wei Fan, Wenting Zhang, Sadie Allen, Sameer Alshehri, Kathryn M. Muilenburg, Cheng Zheng, Jered C. Garrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many low-molecular weight targeted radiotherapeutics (TRTs) are capable of rapidly achieving exceptional tumor to non-target ratios shortly after administration. However, the low tumor residence time of many TRTs limits therapeutic dose delivery and has become the Achilles heel to their clinical translation. To combat the tumor efflux of these otherwise promising agents, we have previously presented a strategy of equipping low-molecular weight TRTs with irreversible cysteine cathepsin inhibitors (e.g., E-64 analogues). These inhibitors are capable of forming irreversible adducts with cysteine proteases within the endolysosomal compartments of cells. Using these endolysosomal trapping agents (ETs), the receptor-targeted constructs are able to increase tumor retention and, thus, deliverable therapeutic doses. In this study, we examine this approach in the development of agents targeting the neurotensin receptor subtype 1 (NTSR1), a receptor overexpressed in numerous cancers. Using an antagonistic NTSR1-targeting vector, we explore the impact of charge modification of the ETs on the in vitro and in vivo biological performance of the constructs using HT-29 colon cancer models. Four ETs (based on the epoxysuccinyl peptide E-64) with various charge states were synthesized and incorporated into the structures of the NTSR1-targeted antagonist. These four 177Lu-labeled, ET-enhanced, NTSR1-targeted agents (177Lu-NA-ET1-4), along with the structurally analogous 177Lu-3BP-227, currently in clinical trials, underwent a battery of in vitro assays using HT-29 xenograft colon cancer cells to examine their NTSR1 binding, internalization and efflux, inhibition, and adduct formation properties. The biodistribution profile of these constructs was studied in an HT-29 mouse model. Charge modification of the terminal carboxylic acid and arginine of the ETs had deleterious effects on inhibition kinetics and in vitro adduct formation. Contrastingly, deletion of the arginine resulted in a modest increase in inhibition kinetics. Incorporation of ETs into the NTSR1-targeted agents was well-tolerated with minimal impact on the in vivo NTSR1 targeting but resulted in increased renal uptake. This study demonstrates that the ETs can be successfully incorporated into antagonistic NTSR1-targeted constructs without compromising their adduct formation capabilities. Based on these results, further exploration of the endolysosomal trapping approach is warranted in NTSR1- A nd other receptor-targeted antagonistic constructs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1363-1376
Number of pages14
JournalBioconjugate Chemistry
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 20 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Organic Chemistry


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