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Chemoselective Methionine Labelling of Recombinant Trastuzumab Shows High In Vitro and In Vivo Tumour Targeting

Schematic illustration of α-HER2M IgG modification in a 2-step approach using a redox-activated chemical tagging and an azide–alkyne cycloaddition reaction.


A highly effective 2-step system for site-specific antibody modification and conjugation of the monoclonal antibody Herceptin (commercially available under Trastuzumab) in a cysteine-independent manner was used to generate labelled antibodies for in vivo imaging. The first step contains redox-activated chemical tagging (ReACT) of thioethers via engineered methionine residues to introduce specific alkyne moieties, thereby offering a novel easy way to fundamentally change the process of antibody bioconjugation. The second step involves modification of the introduced alkyne via azide-alkyne cycloaddition ′click′ conjugation. The versatility of this 2-step approach is demonstrated here by the selective incorporation of a fluorescent dye but can also be applied to a wide variety of different conjugation partners depending on the desired application in a facile manner. Methionine-modified antibodies were characterised in vitro, and the diagnostic potential of the most promising variant was further analysed in an in vivo xenograft animal model using a fluorescence imaging modality. This study demonstrates how methionine-mediated antibody conjugation offers an orthogonal and versatile route to the generation of tailored antibody conjugates with in vivo applicability.

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