Targeted molecular-genetic imaging and ligand-directed therapy in aggressive variant prostate cancer.
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Aggressive variant prostate cancers (AVPC) are a clinically defined group of tumors of heterogeneous morphologies, characterized by poor patient survival and for which limited diagnostic and treatment options are currently available. We show that the cell surface 78-kDa glucose-regulated protein (GRP78), a receptor that binds to phage-display-selected ligands, such as the SNTRVAP motif, is a candidate target in AVPC. We report the presence and accessibility of this receptor in clinical specimens from index patients. We also demonstrate that human AVPC cells displaying GRP78 on their surface could be effectively targeted both in vitro and in vivo by SNTRVAP, which also enabled specific delivery of siRNA species to tumor xenografts in mice. Finally, we evaluated ligand-directed strategies based on SNTRVAP-displaying adeno-associated virus/phage (AAVP) particles in mice bearing MDA-PCa-118b, a patient-derived xenograft (PDX) of castration-resistant prostate cancer bone metastasis that we exploited as a model of AVPC. For theranostic (a merging of the terms therapeutic and diagnostic) studies, GRP78-targeting AAVP particles served to deliver the human Herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase type-1 (HSVtk) gene, which has a dual function as a molecular-genetic sensor/reporter and a cell suicide-inducing transgene. We observed specific and simultaneous PET imaging and treatment of tumors in this preclinical model of AVPC. Our findings demonstrate the feasibility of GPR78-targeting, ligand-directed theranostics for translational applications in AVPC.