In situ growth of a stoichiometric PEG-like conjugate at a protein's N-terminus with significantly improved pharmacokinetics.
The challenge in the synthesis of protein-polymer conjugates for biological applications is to synthesize a stoichiometric (typically 1:1) conjugate of the protein with a monodisperse polymer, with good retention of protein activity, significantly improved pharmacokinetics and increased bioavailability, and hence improved in vivo efficacy. Here we demonstrate, using myoglobin as an example, a general route to grow a PEG-like polymer, poly(oligo(ethylene glycol) methyl ether methacrylate) [poly(OEGMA)], with low polydispersity and high yield, solely from the N-terminus of the protein by in situ atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) under aqueous conditions, to yield a site-specific (N-terminal) and stoichiometric conjugate (1:1). Notably, the myoglobin-poly(OEGMA) conjugate [hydrodynamic radius (R(h)): 13 nm] showed a 41-fold increase in its blood exposure compared to the protein (R(h): 1.7 nm) after IV administration to mice, thereby demonstrating that comb polymers that present short oligo(ethylene glycol) side chains are a class of PEG-like polymers that can significantly improve the pharmacological properties of proteins. We believe that this approach to the synthesis of N-terminal protein conjugates of poly(OEGMA) may be applicable to a large subset of protein and peptide drugs, and thereby provide a general methodology for improvement of their pharmacological profiles.
Gao, W; Liu, W; Mackay, JA; Zalutsky, MR; Toone, EJ; Chilkoti, A
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