GPER-targeted, 99mTc-labeled, nonsteroidal ligands demonstrate selective tumor imaging and in vivo estrogen binding.
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Our understanding of estrogen (E2) receptor biology has evolved in recent years with the discovery and characterization of a 7-transmembrane-spanning G protein-coupled estrogen receptor (GPER1/GPER/GPR30) and the development of GPER-selective functional chemical probes. GPER is highly expressed in certain breast, endometrial and ovarian cancers, establishing the importance of non-invasive methods to evaluate GPER expression in vivo. Herein, we developed 99mTc-labeled GPER ligands to demonstrate the in vivo status of GPER as an estrogen receptor and for GPER visualization in whole animals. A series of 99mTc(I)-labeled non-steroidal tetrahydro-3H-cyclopenta[c]quinolone derivatives was synthesized utilizing pyridin-2-yl hydrazine and picolylamine chelates. Radioligand receptor binding studies revealed binding affinities in the 10-30 nM range. Cell signaling assays previously demonstrated that derivatives retaining a ketone functionality displayed agonist properties whereas those lacking such a hydrogen bond acceptor were antagonists. In vivo biodistribution and imaging studies performed on mice bearing human endometrial and breast cancer cell xenografts yielded significant tumor uptake (0.4-1.1 %ID/g). Blocking studies revealed specific uptake in multiple organs (adrenals,uterus, mammary tissue) as well as tumor uptake with similar levels of competition by E2 and G-1, a GPER-selective agonist. In conclusion, we synthesized and evaluated a series of first generation 99mTc-labeled GPER-specific radioligands, demonstrating GPER as an estrogen-binding receptor for the first time in vivo using competitive binding principles, and establishing the utility of such ligands as tumor imaging agents. These results warrant further investigation into the role of GPER in estrogen-mediated carcinogenesis and as a target for diagnostic/therapeutic/image-guided drug delivery. Implications: These studies provide a molecular basis to evaluate GPER expression and function as an estrogen receptor through in vivo imaging.Copyright © 2014, American Association for Cancer Research.