Enhanced targeting with heterobivalent ligands

Liping Xu, Josef Vagner, Jatinder Josan, Ronald M. Lynch, David L. Morse, Brenda Baggett, Haiyong Han, Eugene A. Mash, Victor J. Hruby, Robert J. Gillies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


A novel approach to specifically target tumor cells for detection and treatment is the proposed use of hetero-multivalent ligands, which are designed to interact with, and noncovalently crosslink, multiple different cell surface receptors. Although enhanced binding has been shown for synthetic homomultivalent ligands, proof of cross-linking requires the use of ligandswith two ormore different binding moieties. As proof-of-concept, we have examined the binding of synthetic heterobivalent ligands to cell lines that were engineered to coexpress two different G-protein-coupled human receptors, i.e., the humanmelanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R) expressed in combination with either the human δ-opioid receptor (δOR) or the human cholecystokinin-2 receptor (CCK2R). Expression levels of these receptorswere characterized by time-resolved fluorescence saturation binding assays using Europium-labeled ligands; Eu-DPLCE, Eu-NDP-α-MSH, and Eu-CCK8 for the δOR, MC4R, and CCK2R, respectively. Heterobivalent ligands were synthesized to contain a MC4R agonist connected via chemical linkers to either a δOR or a CCK2R agonist. In both cell systems, the heterobivalent constructs bound with much higher affinity to cells expressing both receptors, comparedwith cellswith single receptors or to cells where one of the receptors was competitively blocked. These results indicate that synthetic heterobivalent ligands can noncovalently crosslink two unrelated cell surface receptors, making feasible the targeting of receptor combinations. The in vitro cell models described herein will lead to the development of multivalent ligands for target combinations identified in human cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2356-2365
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Cancer Therapeutics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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