Targeted molecular imaging allows specific visualization and monitoring of tumors. Cancer-specific peptides have been developed for imaging and therapy. Peptides that specifically target cancer have several advantages including, ease of synthesis, low antigenicity, and enhanced diffusion into tissues. We developed the HVGGSSV peptide as a molecular targeting/imaging agent. HVGGSSV targets Tax interacting protein 1 (TIP1) which is a 14 kDa PDZ domain-containing protein that is overexpressed in cancer. We docked HVGGSSV in silico using the three-dimensional structure of TIP1 and found the binding energy was −6.0 kCal/mol. The binding affinity of HVGGSSV to TIP1 protein was found to have a K D of 3.3 × 10 −6 M using surface plasmon resonance. We conjugated a 40 kDa PEG to HVGGSSV to enhance the circulation and evaluated the tumor binding in nude mice bearing heterotopic cervical (HT3), esophageal (OE33), pancreatic (BXPC3), lung (A549) and glioma (D54) tumors. NanoSPECT/CT imaging of the mice was performed 48 h and 72 h after injecting with 111 Indium ( 111 In) labeled PEG-HVGGSSV or PEG-control peptide. SPECT imaging revealed that 111 In-PEG-HVGGSSV specifically bound to cervical, esophageal, pancreatic, lung and brain tumors. Post SPECT biodistribution data further validated tumor-specific binding. Overall, HVGGSSV peptide specifically binds to the major groove of the TIP1 protein surface. PEGylated-HVGGSSV could be used to target cancers that overexpress TIP1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-201
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Controlled Release
StatePublished - Mar 28 2019


  • Molecular imaging
  • Peptide
  • SPECT imaging
  • TIP1


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