Background: Tumor response to treatment has been generally assessed with anatomic and functional imaging. Recent development of in vivo molecular and cellular imaging showed promise in time-efficient assessment of the therapeutic efficacy of a prescribed regimen. Currently, the in vivo molecular imaging is limited with shortage of biomarkers and probes with sound biological relevance. We have previously shown in tumor-bearing mice that a hexapeptide (HVGGSSV) demonstrated potentials as a molecular imaging probe to distinguish the tumors responding to ionizing radiation (IR) and/ or tyrosine kinase inhibitor treatment from those of non-responding tumors. Methodology/Principal Findings: In this study we have studied biological basis of the HVGGSSV peptide binding within the irradiated tumors by use of tumor-bearing mice and cultured cancer cells. The results indicated that Tax interacting protein 1 (TIP-1, also known as Tax1BP3) is a molecular target that enables the selective binding of the HVGGSSV peptide within irradiated xenograft tumors. Optical imaging and immunohistochemical staining indicated that a TIP-1 specific antibody demonstrated similar biodistribution as the peptide in tumor-bearing mice. The TIP-1 antibody blocked the peptide from binding within irradiated tumors. Studies on both of human and mouse lung cancer cells showed that the intracellular TIP-1 relocated to the plasma membrane surface within the first few hours after exposure to IR and before the onset of treatment associated apoptosis and cell death. TIP-1 relocation onto the cell surface is associated with the reduced proliferation and the enhanced susceptibility to the subsequent IR treatment. Conclusions/Significance: This study by use of tumor-bearing mice and cultured cancer cells suggested that imaging of the radiation-inducible TIP-1 translocation onto the cancer cell surface may predict the tumor responsiveness to radiation in a time-efficient manner and thus tailor radiotherapy of cancer.
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