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In Annals of translational medicine

Background : Peptide probes can be applied for biomarker targeting to improve the diagnostic accuracy. Cluster of differentiation 44 (CD44) is up-regulated in gastric cancer (GC). Among all the variants of CD44, CD44v6 is reported the most promising biomarker for GC. The purpose of this study was generating and identification a peptide ligand specific to CD44v6.

Methods : A 12-mer phage peptide library was screened on CD44v overexpressed HEK-293 cells with an improved subtractive method. Five candidate sequences emerged. Candidate phages were selected using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and competitive inhibition assays. Then the sequence (designated ELT) was chosen for further study. Its binding affinity and specificity were verified on recombinant protein, GC cells, GC tissues and xenograft models based on BALB/c-nu/nu mice using dissociation constant calculation, immunofluorescence, immunohistochemistry and in vivo imaging separately.

Results : The dissociation constant of ELT with recombinant protein was 611.2 nM. ELT stained CD44v overexpressed HEK-293 but not the cell expressing wild-type CD44s. On GC cell lines, ELT co-stained with anti-CD44v6 antibody. ELT binding on tumor tissues significantly increased compared with that of paracancer tissues, also showed a linear positive correlation with CD44v6 expression. ELT specifically accumulated in tumor and eliminated in short time in vivo.

Conclusions : ELT can target GC in vitro and in vivo via CD44v6, indicating its potential to serve as a probe for GC targeting diagnosis and therapy.

Zhang Dan, Huang Jin, Li Weiming, Zhang Zhiyong, Zhu Meng, Feng Yun, Zhao Yan, Li Yarui, Lu Shaoying, He Shuixiang


CD44v6, Peptide probe, gastric cancer (GC), in vivo imaging, phage display