Metal-chelating polymers by anionic ring-opening polymerization and their use in quantitative mass cytometry

Illy, N., Majonis, D., Herrera, I. et al.

Metal-chelating polymers (MCPs) are important reagents for multiplexed immunoassays based on mass cytometry. The role of the polymer is to carry multiple copies of individual metal isotopes, typically as lanthanide ions, and to provide a reactive functionality for convenient attachment to a monoclonal antibody (mAb). For this application, the optimum combination of chain length, backbone structure, end group, pendant groups, and synthesis strategy has yet to be determined. Here we describe the synthesis of a new type of MCP based on anionic ring-opening polymerization of an activated cyclopropane (the diallyl ester of 1,1-cyclopropane dicarboxylic acid) using a combination of 2-furanmethanethiol and a phosphazene base as the initiator. This reaction takes place with rigorous control over molecular weight, yielding a polymer with a narrow molecular weight distribution, reactive pendant groups for introducing a metal chelator, and a functional end group with orthogonal reactivity for attaching the polymer to the mAbs. Following the ring-opening polymerization, a two-step transformation introduced diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTPA) chelating groups on each pendant group. The polymers were characterized by NMR, size exclusion chromatography (SEC), and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). The binding properties toward Gd(3+) as a prototypical lanthanide (Ln) ion were also studied by isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC). Attachment to a mAb involves a Diels-Alder reaction of the terminal furan with a bismaleimide, followed by a Michael addition of a thiol on the mAb, generated by mild reduction of a disulfide bond in the hinge region. Polymer samples with a number average degree of polymerization of 35, with a binding capacity of 49.5 ± 6 Ln(3+) ions per chain, were loaded with 10 different types of Ln ions and conjugated to 10 different mAbs. A suite of metal-tagged Abs was tested by mass cytometry in a 10-plex single cell analysis of human adult peripheral blood, allowing us to quantify the antibody binding capacity of 10 different cell surface antigens associated with specific cell types.


Illy, N., Majonis, D., Herrera, I. et al. "Metal-chelating polymers by anionic ring-opening polymerization and their use in quantitative mass cytometry" Biomacromolecules (2012): 2,359–69