NSTI Nanotech 2009

Self-assembly and covalent capture of bioactive, nanofibrous hydrogels

J. Hartgerink
Rice University, US

Keywords: self- assembling, nanofibrous, hydrogels


In this talk I will describe the chemical design of a series of self- assembling nanofibrous hydrogels. The nanofibers are formed from designed peptides which utilize the idea of ''molecular frustration'' to organize themselves into ''hydrophobic sandwiches'' and subsequently into nanofibers with dimensions of approximately 2nm x 6nm x 120nm. A second step of self-assembly can be triggered by addition of divalent ions which neutralize the charge repulsion of the fibers and non- covalently cross-link them forming a hydrogel. These hydrogels can be used to entrap cells in a 3D environment that supports cell adhesion, proliferation and differentiation. The mechanical properties of these hydrogels can be dramatically improved by covalent cross-linking. Two methods of covalent capture will be discussed: disulfide bond formation between adjacent cysteine residues and enzymatic cross- linking.
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