Preclinical Study

Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 114, Issue 2, pp 277-285

First online:

Detection and downregulation of type I IGF receptor expression by antibody-conjugated quantum dots in breast cancer cells

  • Hua ZhangAffiliated withUniversity of Minnesota Cancer Center, University of Minnesota
  • , Deepali SachdevAffiliated withUniversity of Minnesota Cancer Center, University of Minnesota
  • , Chun WangAffiliated withDepartment of Biomedical Engineering, University of Minnesota
  • , Allison HubelAffiliated withDepartment of Mechanical Engineering, University of Minnesota
  • , Martine Gaillard-KellyAffiliated withSanofi-Aventis
  • , Douglas YeeAffiliated withUniversity of Minnesota Cancer Center, University of Minnesota Email author 

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The type I insulin-like growth factor (IGF) receptor (IGF1R) is a transmembrane tyrosine kinase involved in breast cancer proliferation, survival, and metastasis. Several monoclonal antibodies directed against the receptor are in clinical trials. In order to develop a methodology to detect and measure IGF1R levels in breast cancer cells, we covalently conjugated an IGF1R antibody, AVE-1642, with quantum dots (Qdots), which are nanocrystals that emit fluorescence upon excitation. AVE-1642 Qdots only bound to cells that express IGF1R, and measured IGF1R levels by fluorescence emission at 655 nm. After binding to the cell surface, AVE-1642 Qdots underwent receptor mediated endocytosis, localized to endosome, and later translocated into the nucleus. Treating MCF-7 cells with AVE-1642 Qdots, but not unconjugated Qdots alone, downregulated IGF1R levels and rendered cells refractory to IGF-I stimulation. Furthermore, cell proliferation was slightly inhibited by AVE-1642 Qdots, but not the unconjugated Qdots. Our data suggest that AVE-1642 Qdots can be used to detect IGF1R expression and measure changes in cell surface receptor levels. In addition, the inhibitory effect of AVE-1642 Qdots to cell proliferation implies that it may serve as a traceable therapeutic agent.

Key words

Type I IGF receptor Breast cancer Quantum dots Antibody Quantitative measurement