Novel Tat-peptide chelates for direct transduction of technetium-99m and rhenium into human cells for imaging and radiotherapy

V. Polyakov, V. Sharma, J. L. Dahlheimer, C. M. Pica, G. D. Luker, D. Piwnica-Worms

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

154 Scopus citations


Rapid and efficient delivery of radioactive metal complexes to the cell interior would enable novel applications in medical imaging and radiotherapy. Membrane permeant peptide conjugates incorporating HIV-1 Tat transactivation protein sequences (GRKKRRQRRR) and an appropriate peptide-based motif (ε-KGC) that provides an N3S donor core for chelating technetium and rhenium were synthesized. Oxotechnetium(V) and oxorhenium(V) Tat-peptide complexes were prepared by facile transchelation reactions with permetalates, tin(II) chloride and sodium glucoheptonate. RP-HPLC showed two major [99mTc]Tat-peptide species (4) that differed in retention time by ~2 min corresponding to two [Re]Tat-peptide species (7) shown to have identical mass, consistent with formation of two isomers, likely the oxo-metal diastereomers. [99mTc]Tat-peptides were stable to transchelation in vitro. In human Jurkat cells, [99mTc]Tat-peptide 4 showed concentrative cell accumulation (30-fold greater than extracellular concentration) and rapid uptake kinetics (t 1/2 < 2 min) in a diastereomeric-comparable manner. Paradoxically, uptake was enhanced in 4 °C buffer compared to 37 °C, while depolarization of membrane potential as well as inhibition of microtubule function and vesicular trafficking showed no inhibitory effect. Cells preloaded with 4 showed rapid washout kinetics into peptide-free solution. Modification of [99mTc]Tat-peptide by deletion of the N-terminus Gly with or without biotinylation minimally impacted net cell uptake. In addition, the C-terminus thiol of the prototypic Tat-peptide was labeled with fluorescein-5-maleimide to yield conjugate 8. Fluorescence microscopy directly localized conjugate 8 to the cytosol and nuclei (possibly nucleolus) of human Jurkat, KB 3-1 and KB 8-5 tumor cells. Preliminary imaging studies in mice following intravenous administration of prototypic [99mTc]Tat-peptide 4 showed an initial whole body distribution and rapid clearance by both renal and hepatobiliary excretion. Analysis of murine blood in vivo and human serum ex vivo revealed >95% intact complex, while murine urine in vivo showed 65% parent complex. Thus, these novel Tat-peptide chelate conjugates, capable of forming stable [Tc/Re(V)]complexes, rapidly translocate across cell membranes into intracellular compartments and can be readily derivatized for further targeted applications in molecular imaging and radiotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)762-771
Number of pages10
JournalBioconjugate Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000


Dive into the research topics of 'Novel Tat-peptide chelates for direct transduction of technetium-99m and rhenium into human cells for imaging and radiotherapy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this