Poly(ethylene glycol) modification of beta-glucuronidase-antibody conjugates for solid-tumor therapy by targeted activation of glucuronide prodrugs

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 1997 Aug;44(6):305-15. doi: 10.1007/s002620050387.


Methoxypoly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) modification of Escherichia coli beta-glucuronidase (betaG) was examined as a method to improve the stability and pharmacokinetics of antibody-betaG conjugates for the targeted activation of glucuronide prodrugs at tumor cells. Introduction of 3 PEG molecules did not affect betaG activity whereas higher degrees of PEG modification produced progressively greater loss of enzymatic activity. The enzyme was found to be stable in serum regardless of PEG modification. PEG-modified betaG was coupled via a thioether bond to mAb RH1, an IgG2a antibody that binds to the surface of AS-30D hepatoma cells, to produce conjugates with 3 (RH1-betaG-3PEG), 5.2 (RH1-betaG-5PEG) or 9.8 (RH1-betaG-10PEG) PEG molecules per betaG with retention of 75%, 45% and 40% of the combined antigen-binding and enzymatic activity of the unmodified conjugate RH1-betaG. In contrast to the rapid serum clearance of RH1-betaG observed in mice, the PEG-modified conjugates displayed extended serum half-lives. RH1-betaG-3PEG and RH1-betaG-5PEG also exhibited reduced spleen uptake and greater tumor accumulation than RH1-betaG. BHAMG, the glucuronide prodrug of p-hydroxyaniline mustard (pHAM), was relatively nontoxic in vivo. Injection of 6 mg/kg or 12 mg/kg pHAM i.v. depressed white blood cell numbers by 46% and 71% whereas 80 mg/kg BHAMG reduced these levels by 22%. Although the tumor/blood ratio of RH1-betaG-5PEG was adversely affected by slow clearance from serum, combined therapy of small solid hepatoma tumors with this conjugate, followed 4 and 5 days later with i.v. injections of BHAMG, cured all of seven mice with severe combined immunodeficiency. Combined treatment with a control antibody-betaG conjugate and BHAMG delayed tumor growth and cured two of six mice while treatment with pHAM or BHAMG alone was ineffective.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aniline Mustard / analogs & derivatives
  • Aniline Mustard / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacokinetics
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / toxicity
  • Enzyme Stability
  • Glucuronates / pharmacokinetics
  • Glucuronates / pharmacology
  • Glucuronidase / blood
  • Glucuronidase / pharmacokinetics*
  • Glucuronidase / pharmacology
  • Immunoconjugates / metabolism
  • Immunoconjugates / pharmacokinetics*
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / drug therapy*
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Mice, SCID
  • Polyethylene Glycols / pharmacokinetics*
  • Polyethylene Glycols / pharmacology
  • Prodrugs / pharmacokinetics*
  • Rats
  • Transplantation, Heterologous


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Glucuronates
  • Immunoconjugates
  • Prodrugs
  • p-hydroxyaniline mustard glucuronide, tetra-n-butyl ammonium salt
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • monomethoxypolyethylene glycol
  • Aniline Mustard
  • Glucuronidase