An improved method for covalently conjugating morpholino oligomers to antitumor antibodies

Bioconjug Chem. May-Jun 2007;18(3):983-8. doi: 10.1021/bc060208v. Epub 2007 Mar 27.


Whether for conventional pretargeting, amplification pretargeting, or affinity enhancement pretargeting, it will be necessary to conjugate an antitumor antibody as the first injectate. This laboratory is investigating phosphorodiamidate morpholinos (MORFs) for pretargeting, and accordingly we are examining methods of attaching MORFs to antitumor antibodies that provide at least one group per molecule (gpm) without adversely influencing antibody properties. The aim of this investigation was to evaluate the commercial Hydralink for the conjugation of the anti-CEA MN14 antibody with an 18 mer amine-derivatized MORF. The conjugation was approached in both directions by first reacting MN14 with the NHS derivatives of 4-hydrozinonicotinate acetone hydrazone (SANH) or 4-formylbenzoate (SFB) and then combining with MORF that was previously reacted with SFB or SANH to yield MN14(SANH)-MORF and MN14(SFB)-MORF respectively. The storage stability, immunoreactive fraction, and the biodistribution in normal mice were compared for both conjugates. Thereafter, MN14(SANH)-MORF was used in a pretargeting study in tumored nude mice, and the results were compared to that obtained historically with MN14-MORF prepared by carbodiimide (EDC) coupling. Both new methods of conjugation provided between 1 and 2 gpm compared to 0.2 achieved previously by EDC. Furthermore, by repeat SE HPLC with and without CEA, both showed an unimpaired immunoreactive fraction. MN14(SANH)-MORF tolerated long-term storage best. More importantly, when labeled by hybridization with 99mTc-labeled complementary MORF (99mTc-cMORF), the biodistribution of MN14(SANH)-MORF was more favorable than that of MN14(SFB)-MORF in normal mice with lower liver (5.7 vs 9.4 %ID/g at 18 h) and spleen (3.5 vs 8.4 %ID/g) accumulations and higher blood levels (4.8 vs 3.4 %ID/g). Accordingly, only MN14(SANH)-MORF was used in a pretargeting study in tumored mice. When targeted with 99mTc-cMORF and at 2 days postinjection of antibody-MORF, the results obtained with 6 microg of antibody prepared in this way were essentially identical to that obtained previously with 30 microg of antibody prepared via EDC. Hydralink was used successfully to conjugate MORF to MN14 at higher gpm than that achieved earlier and without an obvious compromise of properties. Using MN14(SANH)-MORF, the influence of the higher gpm on pretargeting permitted lowering the dosages of MN14 administered and may permit administering higher levels of radioactivity in connection with therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Neoplasm / chemistry*
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrazones / chemical synthesis*
  • Hydrazones / pharmacokinetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Morpholines / chemical synthesis*
  • Morpholines / chemistry
  • Morpholines / pharmacokinetics
  • Morpholinos
  • Organophosphorus Compounds / chemical synthesis*
  • Organophosphorus Compounds / pharmacokinetics
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Antibodies, Neoplasm
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen
  • Hydrazones
  • Morpholines
  • Morpholinos
  • Organophosphorus Compounds