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Biopolymers. 2012 Jul;97(7):508-17. doi: 10.1002/bip.22033. Epub 2012 Feb 10.

A modular approach to the design of protein-based smart gels.

Author information

1
Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511, USA.

Abstract

The modular nature of repeat proteins makes them a versatile platform for the design of smart materials with predetermined properties. Here, we present a general strategy for combining protein modules with specified stability and function into arrays for the assembly of stimuli-responsive gels. We have designed tetratricopeptide repeat (TPR) arrays which contain peptide-binding modules that specify the strength and reversibility of network crosslinking in combination with spacer modules that specify crosslinking geometry and overall stability of the array. By combining such arrays with multivalent peptide ligands, self-supporting stimuli-responsive gels are formed. Using microrheology, we characterized the kinetics of gelation as a function of concentration and stoichiometry of the components. We also show that such gels are effective in encapsulating and releasing small molecules. Moreover, TPR gels alone are fully compatible with cell growth, whereas gels loaded with an anticancer compound release the compound, resulting in cell death. Thus, we have demonstrated that this new class of tunable biomaterials is ripe for further development as tissue engineering and drug delivery platform.

PMID:
22328209
DOI:
10.1002/bip.22033
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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