The αvβ3 integrin, expressed on the surface of various normal and cancer cells, is involved in numerous physiologic processes such as angiogenesis, apoptosis, and bone resorption. Because this integrin plays a key role in angiogenesis and metastasis of human tumors, αvβ3 integrin ligands are of great interest to advances in targeted therapy and cancer imaging. In this report, one-bead one-compound (OBOC) combinatorial libraries containing the arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) motif were designed and screened against K562 myeloid leukemia cells that had been transfected with the human αvβ3 integrin gene. Cyclic peptide LXW7 was identified as a leading ligand with a built-in handle that binds specifically to αvβ3 and showed comparable binding affinity (IC50 = 0.68 ± 0.08 μmol/L) to some of the well-known RGD "head-to-tail" cyclic pentapeptide ligands reported in the literature. The biotinylated form of LXW7 ligand showed similar binding strength as LXW7 against αvβ3 integrin, whereas biotinylated RGD cyclopentapeptide ligands revealed a 2- to 8-fold weaker binding affinity than their free forms. LXW7 was able to bind to both U-87MG glioblastoma and A375M melanoma cell lines, both of which express high levels of αvβ3 integrin. In vivo and ex vivo optical imaging studies with the biotinylated ligand/streptavidin-Cy5.5 complex in nude mice bearing U-87MG or A375M xenografts revealed preferential uptake of biotinylated LXW7 in tumor. When compared with biotinylated RGD cyclopentapeptide ligands, biotinylated LXW7 showed higher tumor uptake but lower liver uptake.
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