Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Chun Li

Committee Member

Diana Chow

Committee Member

Dawid Schellingerhout

Committee Member

Zhen Fan

Committee Member

Jason Stafford


EphB4 receptors, a member of the largest family of receptor tyrosine kinases, are found over-expressed in a variety of tumors cells including glioma cells as well as angiogenic blood vessels. Noninvasive imaging of EphB4 could potentially increase early detection rates, monitor response to therapy directed against EphB4, and improve patient outcomes. Targeted delivery of EphB4 receptor specific peptide conjugated hollow gold nanoshells (HAuNS) into tumors has great potential in cancer imaging and photothermal therapy. In this study, we developed an EphB4 specific peptide named TNYL-RAW and labeled with radioisotope 64Cu and Cy5.5 dye. We also conjugate this specific peptide with hollow gold nanoshells (HAuNS) to evaluate targeted photothermal therapy of cancers. In vitro, 64Cu-DOTA-TNYL- RAW specifically bind to CT26 and PC-3M cells but not to A549 cells. In vivo, Small-animal PET/CT clearly showed the significant uptake of 64Cu-DOTA-TNYL-RAW in CT26 and PC-3M tumors but not in A549 tumors. Furthermore, µPET/CT and near-infrared optical imaging clearly showed the uptake of the dual labeled TNYL-RAW peptide in both U251 and U87 tumors in the brains of nude mice. In U251 tumors, Cy5.5-labeled peptide can bind to EphB4-expressing tumor blood vessels and tumors cells. But in U87 models, dual labeled peptide only could bind to tumor associated blood vessels. Also, Irradiation of PC-3M and CT-26 cell treated with TNYL-PEG-HAuNS nanopatilces with near-infrared (NIR) laser resulted in selective destruction of these cells in vitro. EphB4 targeted TNYL-PEG-HAuNS showed more photothermal killing effect on CT26 tumor model than PEG-HAuNS did. In summary, tumors with overexpression of EphB4 receptors can be noninvasively visualized by micro PET/CT with 64Cu labeled or dual labeled TNYL-RAW peptide. Targeted delivery of TNYL-RAW conjugated HAuNS into tumors can greatly improve the treatment effect of photothermal therapy. The information acquired with this study should be advantageous in improving diagnostics and future applications in photothermal ablation therapy in clinical.


EphB4, cancer, imaging, glioblastoma, micro PET/CT, HAuNS, Photothermal therapy