Adriamycin conjugates of human transferrin bind transferrin receptors and kill K562 and HL60-cells

Alajos Berczi, Klara Barabas, Joseph A. Sizensky, W. Page Faulk

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Adriamycin (ADR) was coupled to human transferrin (TUF) by using a glutaraldehyde crosslinking method. The TRF-ADR conjugates were separated by column chromatography and the molar ratio of ADR to TRE (i.e., conjugation number) for the studied conjugates was found to be 1.2. Analysis in sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gels demonstrated that TRF-ADR conjugates with this molar ratio had the same mobility as native TRF and contained few aggregates. The ADR remained conjugated to TRF under conditions of decreased pH known to occur in many intracellular compartments, and analysis by spectrofluorometry revealed that the conjugated ADR retained its ability to intercalate DNA. The TRF-ADR conjugates were shown by flow cytometry to preferentially bind tumor cells and cell-bound conjugates were found to be laterally mobile within plasma membranes. The binding of TRF-ADR conjugates was determined to be saturable, and competition experiments done with both radioiodinated and fluorescein-labeled TRF-ADR conjugates demonstrated dose-dependent inhibition of conjugate binding by unlabeled TRF, indicating that TRF-ADR conjugates were bound by TRF receptors. Cytotoxicity studies performed with tritiated thymidine incorporation and tetrazolium reduction assays revealed that TRF-ADR conjugates inhibited the proliferation of both K562 and HL6O cells in culture more effectively than free ADR. Such conjugates could provide a delivery system for ADR that would target the drug and possibly diminish its dose-associated complications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-363
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1993


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology

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