Ligand-directed targeting of malignant gliomas

Catherine Moya, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The dramatic poor survival of patients diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a reflection of the struggles that accompany traditional treatments. Thus, the development of molecular-based targeted therapies represents new windows for intervention. In this study, we hypothesized that we could select peptide-ligands that selectively target GBM based on the idea that the glioma microenvironment may induce or modify the expression of cell surface receptors that could be accessed by circulating peptides. To select the peptides we employed two distinct in vivo screenings. First, a random phage-displayed peptide library was injected into mice bearing intracranial tumors. Phage that bound to tumor were recovered and sequenced. We found that the tumor-derived phage CLSYKGRC, CNKVSTKC and CQSSREKC were recovered with the highest frequencies and used for subsequent targeting experiments. Second, the phage peptide library was injected into mice without tumors and phage were recovered from brain and sequenced. A phage-displayed peptide (CRTIGPSVC) with homology to transferrin (Tf) was selected and injected into brain tumor-bearing mice. Results showed that after 6 hours of circulation, the CLSYKGRC, CNKVSTKC and CQSSREKC-phage selectively targeted GBM vasculature. In contrast, Tf-like phage accumulated outside the tumor blood vessels in the cytoplasm of cells located within GBM, suggesting it was internalized in vivo. However, after short periods of circulation this phage was restricted to the tumor vasculature. Importantly, none of the selected phage targeted normal brain cells in animals bearing intracranial tumors. An affinity column coupled to the CNKVSTKC zpeptide was used to identify receptors from GBM. Using mass-spectrometry Vimentin, a marker of glial malignancy, was identified as a potential receptor. Other studies showed that the Tf-like phage bound selectively to Apo-Tf (iron free), with no binding to Holo-Tf (iron loaded) or to Tf receptor (TfR). However, the binding of Tf-like phage to glioma cells that express TfR increased in the presence of Apo-Tf. Thus, the Tf-like phage could indirectly target TfR using the endogenous Tf pathway. We propose that the novel peptides identified in this study could be conjugated to therapeutic or imaging agents for use GBM.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Genetics|Oncology

Recommended Citation

Moya, Catherine, "Ligand-directed targeting of malignant gliomas" (2006). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3231744.