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Bioorg Med Chem. 2011 Jul 1;19(13):4080-90. doi: 10.1016/j.bmc.2011.05.010. Epub 2011 May 14.

Synthesis and radiolabeling of chelator-RNA aptamer bioconjugates with copper-64 for targeted molecular imaging.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, United States.


Ribonucleic acid (RNA) aptamers with high affinity and specificity for cancer-specific cell-surface antigens are promising reagents for targeted molecular imaging of cancer using positron emission tomography (PET). For this application, aptamers must be conjugated to chelators capable of coordinating PET-radionuclides (e.g., copper-64, (64)Cu) to enable radiolabeling for in vivo imaging of tumors. This study investigates the choice of chelator and radiolabeling parameters such as pH and temperature for the development of (64)Cu-labeled RNA-based targeted agents for PET imaging. The characterization and optimization of labeling conditions are described for four chelator-aptamer complexes. Three commercially available bifunctional macrocyclic chelators (1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane-1,4,7-triacetic acid mono N-hydroxysuccinimide [DOTA-NHS]; S-2-(4-isothiocyanatobenzyl)-1,4,7-triazacyclononane-1,4,7-triacetic acid [p-SCN-Bn-NOTA]; and p-SCN-Bn-3,6,9,15-tetraazabicyclo [9.3.1]pentadeca-1(15),11,13-triene-3,6,9-triacetic acid [p-SCN-Bn-PCTA]), as well as the polyamino-macrocyclic diAmSar (3,6,10,13,16,19-hexaazabicyclo[6.6.6] icosane-1,8-diamine) were conjugated to A10-3.2, a RNA aptamer which has been shown to bind specifically to a prostate cancer-specific cell-surface antigen (PSMA). Although a commercial bifunctional version of diAmSar was not available, RNA conjugation with this chelator was achieved in a two-step reaction by the addition of a disuccinimidyl suberate linker. Radiolabeling parameters (e.g., pH, temperature, and time) for each chelator-RNA conjugate were assessed in order to optimize specific activity and RNA stability. Furthermore, the radiolabeled chelator-coupled RNA aptamers were evaluated for binding specificity to their target antigen. In summary, key parameters were established for optimal radiolabeling of RNA aptamers for eventual PET imaging with (64)Cu.

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