A triglycyl peptide linker (CX) was designed for use in antibody–drug conjugates (ADC), aiming to provide efficient release and lysosomal efflux of cytotoxic catabolites within targeted cancer cells. ADCs comprising anti-epithelial cell adhesion molecule (anti-EpCAM) and anti-EGFR antibodies with maytansinoid payloads were prepared using CX or a noncleavable SMCC linker (CX and SMCC ADCs). The in vitro cytotoxic activities of CX and SMCC ADCs were similar for several cancer cell lines; however, the CX ADC was more active (5–100-fold lower IC50) than the SMCC ADC in other cell lines, including a multidrug-resistant line. Both CX and SMCC ADCs showed comparable MTDs and pharmacokinetics in CD-1 mice. In Calu-3 tumor xenografts, antitumor efficacy was observed with the anti-EpCAM CX ADC at a 5-fold lower dose than the corresponding SMCC ADC in vivo. Similarly, the anti-EGFR CX ADC showed improved antitumor activity over the respective SMCC conjugate in HSC-2 and H1975 tumor models; however, both exhibited similar activity against FaDu xenografts. Mechanistically, in contrast with the charged lysine-linked catabolite of SMCC ADC, a significant fraction of the carboxylic acid catabolite of CX ADC could be uncharged in the acidic lysosomes, and thus diffuse out readily into the cytosol. Upon release from tumor cells, CX catabolites are charged at extracellular pH and do not penetrate and kill neighboring cells, similar to the SMCC catabolite. Overall, these data suggest that CX represents a promising linker option for the development of ADCs with improved therapeutic properties. Mol Cancer Ther; 15(6); 1311–20. ©2016 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Molecular Cancer Therapeutics Online (http://mct.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received January 14, 2016.
- Revision received March 17, 2016.
- Accepted March 19, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.