Visualizing Galectin-3 Binding Protein Expression with ImmunoPET

Mol Pharm. 2023 Jun 5;20(6):3241-3248. doi: 10.1021/acs.molpharmaceut.3c00241. Epub 2023 May 16.


Galectin-3 binding protein (Gal-3BP) is a glycoprotein that is overexpressed and secreted by several cancers and has been implicated as a marker of both tumor progression and poor prognosis in melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, and breast cancer. The expression of Gal-3BP by a variety of neoplasms makes it an enticing target for both diagnostics and therapeutics, including immuno-positron emission tomography (immunoPET) probes and antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs). Herein, we report the development, in vitro characterization, and in vivo evaluation of a pair of Gal-3BP-targeting radioimmunoconjugates for 89Zr-immunoPET. A humanized anti-Gal-3BP antibody, 1959, and its corresponding ADC, 1959-sss/DM4 (DM4 = ravtansine), were modified with desferrioxamine (DFO) to yield DFO-1959 and DFO-1959-sss/DM4 immunoconjugates bearing 1-2 DFO/monoclonal antibody. Both DFO-modified immunoconjugates retained their affinity for Gal-3BP in enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay experiments. The chelator-bearing antibodies were radiolabeled with zirconium-89 (t1/2 ≈ 3.3 d) to produce radioimmunoconjugates ─ [89Zr]Zr-DFO-1959 and [89Zr]Zr-DFO-1959-sss/DM4 ─ with high specific activity (>444 MBq/mg, >12 mCi/mg) and stability (>80% intact after 168 h in human serum at 37 °C). In mice bearing subcutaneous Gal-3BP-secreting A375-MA1 xenografts, [89Zr]Zr-DFO-1959 clearly delineated tumor tissue, reaching a maximum tumoral activity concentration (54.8 ± 15.8%ID/g) and tumor-to-background contrast (tumor-to-blood = 8.0 ± 4.6) at 120 h post-injection. The administration of [89Zr]Zr-DFO-1959 to mice bearing subcutaneous Gal-3BP-expressing melanoma patient-derived xenografts produced similarly promising results. [89Zr]Zr-DFO-1959 and [89Zr]Zr-DFO-1959-sss/DM4 exhibited nearly identical pharmacokinetic profiles in the mice bearing A375-MA1 tumors, though the latter produced higher uptake in the spleen and kidneys. Both [89Zr]Zr-DFO-1959 and [89Zr]Zr-DFO-1959-sss/DM4 effectively visualized Gal-3BP-secreting tumors in murine models of melanoma. These results suggest that both probes could play a role in the clinical imaging of Gal-3BP-expressing malignancies, particularly as companion theranostics for the identification of patients likely to respond to Gal-3BP-targeted therapeutics such as 1959-sss/DM4.

Keywords: Zr-89; antibody-drug conjugate; galectin-3 binding protein; immunoPET; positron emission tomography; theranostic imaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Deferoxamine / chemistry
  • Galectin 3
  • Humans
  • Immunoconjugates* / chemistry
  • Lung Neoplasms*
  • Melanoma*
  • Mice
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods
  • Zirconium / chemistry


  • Deferoxamine
  • Galectin 3
  • Immunoconjugates
  • Zirconium
  • Ppicap protein, mouse
  • LGALS3BP protein, human