Background: Protein used in medicine, e.g. interferon, are immunogenic and quickly broken down by the body. Pegylation is a recognized way of preserving their integrity and reducing immune reactions, and works well with enzymes used to degrade amino acids, a recent focus of attention in controlling cancer growth. Of the two arginine-degrading enzymes being explored clinically, arginine deiminase is a decidedly foreign mycoplasm-derived enzyme, whereas human arginase 1 is a native liver enzyme. Both have been pegylated, the former with adjuncts of 20 kD, the latter with 5 kD PEG. Pegylation is done by several different methods, not all of which are satisfactory or desirable. Methods: The preparation of novel polyethylene glycol (PEG) derivatives for modifying proteins is described, but directed specifically at pegylation of recombinant human arginase 1 (rhArg1). rhArg1 expressed in Escherichia coli was purified and coupled in various ways with 5 different PEG molecules to compare their protective properties and the residual enzyme activity, using hepatocellular cell lines both in vitro and in vivo. Results: Methoxypolyethylene glycol-succinimidyl propionate (mPEG-SPA 5,000) coupled with very high affinity under mild conditions. The resulting pegylated enzyme (rhArg1-peg5,000 mw) had up to 6 PEG chains of 5K length which not only protected it from degradation and any residual immunogenicity, but most importantly let it retain >90% of its native catalytic activity. It remained efficacious in depleting arginine in rats after a single ip injection of 1,500 U of the conjugate as the native enzyme, plasma arginine falling to >0.05 μM from ∼170 μM within 20 min and lasting 6 days. The conjugate had almost the same efficacy as unpegylated rhArg1 on 2 cultured human liver cancer (HCC) cell lines. It was considerably more effective than 4 other pegylated conjugates prepared. Conclusion: Valuable data on the optimization of the pegylation procedure and choice of ligand that best stabilizes the enzyme arginase 1 are presented, a protocol that should equally fit many other enzymes and proteins. It is a long lasting arginine-depleting enzyme in vivo which will greatly improve its use in anti-cancer therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research