The cancer stem cell (CSC) marker CD133 is an attractive target to improve antitumor therapy. We have used photochemical internalization (PCI) for the endosomal escape of the novel CD133-targeting immunotoxin AC133-saporin (PCIAC133-saporin). PCI employs an endocytic vesicle-localizing photosensitizer, which generates reactive oxygen species upon light-activation causing a rupture of the vesicle membranes and endosomal escape of entrapped drugs. Here we show that AC133-saporin co-localizes with the PCI-photosensitizer TPCS2a, which upon light exposure induces cytosolic release of AC133-saporin. PCI of picomolar levels of AC133-saporin in colorectal adenocarcinoma WiDr cells blocked cell proliferation and induced 100% inhibition of cell viability and colony forming ability at the highest light doses, whereas no cytotoxicity was obtained in the absence of light. Efficient PCI-based CD133-targeting was in addition demonstrated in the stem-cell-like, triple negative breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231 and in the aggressive malignant melanoma cell line FEMX-1, whereas no enhanced targeting was obtained in the CD133-negative breast cancer cell line MCF-7. PCIAC133-saporin induced mainly necrosis and a minimal apoptotic response based on assessing cleavage of caspase-3 and PARP, and the TUNEL assay. PCIAC133-saporin resulted in S phase arrest and reduced LC3-II conversion compared to control treatments. Notably, co-treatment with Bafilomycin A1 and PCIAC133-saporin blocked LC3-II conversion, indicating a termination of the autophagic flux in WiDr cells. For the first time, we demonstrate laser-controlled targeting of CD133 in vivo. After only one systemic injection of AC133-saporin and TPCS2a, a strong anti-tumor response was observed after PCIAC133-saporin. The present PCI-based endosomal escape technology represents a minimally invasive strategy for spatio-temporal, light-controlled targeting of CD133+ cells in localized primary tumors or metastasis.
Keywords: Autophagy; CD133; Cancer stem cells; Cancer therapy; Controlled drug delivery; Endosomal escape; Immunotoxin; Photochemical internalization; Photodynamic therapy; Targeting.
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