Increasing the Antitumor Effect of an EpCAM-Targeting Fusion Toxin by Facile Click PEGylation

Simon, Manuel; Stefan, Nikolas; Borsig, Lubor; Plückthun, Andreas; Zangemeister-Wittke, Uwe (2014). Increasing the Antitumor Effect of an EpCAM-Targeting Fusion Toxin by Facile Click PEGylation. Molecular cancer therapeutics, 2(13), pp. 375-385. American Association for Cancer Research AACR 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-13-0523

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Fusion toxins used for cancer-related therapy have demonstrated short circulation half-lives, which impairs tumor localization and, hence, efficacy. Here, we demonstrate that the pharmacokinetics of a fusion toxin composed of a designed ankyrin repeat protein (DARPin) and domain I–truncated Pseudomonas Exotoxin A (PE40/ETA″) can be significantly improved by facile bioorthogonal conjugation with a polyethylene glycol (PEG) polymer at a unique position. Fusion of the anti-EpCAM DARPin Ec1 to ETA″ and expression in methionine-auxotrophic E. coli enabled introduction of the nonnatural amino acid azidohomoalanine (Aha) at position 1 for strain-promoted click PEGylation. PEGylated Ec1-ETA″ was characterized by detailed biochemical analysis, and its potential for tumor targeting was assessed using carcinoma cell lines of various histotypes in vitro, and subcutaneous and orthotopic tumor xenografts in vivo. The mild click reaction resulted in a well-defined mono-PEGylated product, which could be readily purified to homogeneity. Despite an increased hydrodynamic radius resulting from the polymer, the fusion toxin demonstrated high EpCAM-binding activity and retained cytotoxicity in the femtomolar range. Pharmacologic analysis in mice unveiled an almost 6-fold increase in the elimination half-life (14 vs. 82 minutes) and a more than 7-fold increase in the area under the curve (AUC) compared with non-PEGylated Ec1-ETA″, which directly translated in increased and longer-lasting effects on established tumor xenografts. Our data underline the great potential of combining the inherent advantages of the DARPin format with bioorthogonal click chemistry to overcome the limitations of engineering fusion toxins with enhanced efficacy for cancer-related therapy.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Pharmacology

UniBE Contributor:

Simon, Manuel; Stefan, Nikolas and Zangemeister-Wittke, Uwe


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




American Association for Cancer Research AACR




Anita Dähler

Date Deposited:

17 Jul 2014 15:52

Last Modified:

11 Nov 2015 10:09

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:



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