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J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Sep 26;134(38):15696-9. Epub 2012 Sep 14.

In silico-aided design of a glycan ligand of sialoadhesin for in vivo targeting of macrophages.

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Department of Chemical Physiology, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, United States.


Cell-specific delivery of therapeutic agents using ligand targeting is gaining interest because of its potential for increased efficacy and reduced side effects. The challenge is to develop a suitable ligand for a cell-surface receptor that is selectively expressed on the desired cell. Sialoadhesin (Sn, Siglec-1, CD169), a sialic acid-binding immunoglobulin-like lectin (Siglec) expressed on subsets of resident and inflammatory macrophages, is an attractive target for the development of a ligand-targeted delivery system. Here we report the development of a high-affinity and selective ligand for Sn that is an analogue of the natural ligand and is capable of targeting liposomal nanoparticles to Sn-expressing cells in vivo. An efficient in silico screen of a library of ∼8400 carboxylic acids was the key to identifying novel 9-N-acyl-substituted N-acetylneuramic acid (Neu5Ac) substituents as potential lead compounds. A small panel of targets were selected from the screen and synthesized to evaluate their affinities and selectivities. The most potent of these Sn ligands, 9-N-(4H-thieno[3,2-c]chromene-2-carbamoyl)-Neu5Acα2-3Galβ1-4GlcNAc ((TCC)Neu5Ac), was conjugated to lipids for display on a liposomal nanoparticle for evaluation of targeted delivery to cells. The (TCC)Neu5Ac liposomes were found to target liposomes selectively to cells expressing either murine or human Sn in vitro, and when administered to mice, they exhibited in vivo targeting to Sn-positive macrophages.

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