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Nucl Med Biol. 2011 Feb;38(2):223-33. doi: 10.1016/j.nucmedbio.2010.08.013. Epub 2010 Oct 27.

Engineering an antibody with picomolar affinity to DOTA chelates of multiple radionuclides for pretargeted radioimmunotherapy and imaging.

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  • 1Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.



In pretargeted radioimmunotherapy (PRIT), a bifunctional antibody is administered and allowed to pre-localize to tumor cells. Subsequently, a chelated radionuclide is administered and captured by cell-bound antibody while unbound hapten clears rapidly from the body. We aim to engineer high-affinity binders to 1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane-1,4,7,10-tetraacetic acid (DOTA) chelates for use in PRIT applications.


We mathematically modeled antibody and hapten pharmacokinetics to analyze hapten tumor retention as a function of hapten binding affinity. Motivated by model predictions, we used directed evolution and yeast surface display to affinity mature the 2D12.5 antibody to DOTA, reformatted as a single chain variable fragment (scFv).


Modeling predicts that for high antigen density and saturating bsAb dose, a hapten-binding affinity of 100 pM is needed for near-maximal hapten retention. We affinity matured 2D12.5 with an initial binding constant of about 10 nM to DOTA-yttrium chelates. Affinity maturation resulted in a 1000-fold affinity improvement to biotinylated DOTA-yttrium, yielding an 8.2±1.9 picomolar binder. The high-affinity scFv binds DOTA complexes of lutetium and gadolinium with similar picomolar affinity and indium chelates with low nanomolar affinity. When engineered into a bispecific antibody construct targeting carcinoembryonic antigen, pretargeted high-affinity scFv results in significantly higher tumor retention of a (111)In-DOTA hapten compared to pretargeted wild-type scFv in a xenograft mouse model.


We have engineered a versatile, high-affinity, DOTA-chelate-binding scFv. We anticipate it will prove useful in developing pretargeted imaging and therapy protocols to exploit the potential of a variety of radiometals.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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