Multifunctional Materials through Modular Protein Engineering
ABSTRACT The diversity of potential applications for protein-engineered materials has undergone profound recent expansion through a rapid increase in the library of domains that have been utilized in these materials. Historically, protein-engineered biomaterials have been generated from a handful of peptides that were selected and exploited for their naturally evolved functionalities. In recent years, the scope of the field has drastically expanded to include peptide domains that were designed through computational modeling, identified through high-throughput screening, or repurposed from wild type domains to perform functions distinct from their primary native applications. The strategy of exploiting a diverse library of peptide domains to design modular block copolymers enables the synthesis of multifunctional protein-engineered materials with a range of customizable properties and activities. As the diversity of peptide domains utilized in modular protein engineering continues to expand, a tremendous and ever-growing combinatorial expanse of material functionalities will result.
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ABSTRACT: Complexation of biomacromolecules (e.g., nucleic acids, proteins, or viruses) with surfactants containing flexible alkyl tails, followed by dehydration, is shown to be a simple generic method for the production of thermotropic liquid crystals. The anhydrous smectic phases that result exhibit biomacromolecular sublayers intercalated between aliphatic hydrocarbon sublayers at or near room temperature. Both this and low transition temperatures to other phases enable the study and application of thermotropic liquid crystal phase behavior without thermal degradation of the biomolecular components.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 12/2014; DOI:10.1073/pnas.1421257111 · 9.81 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Hydrogels provide mechanical support and a hydrated environment that offer good cytocompatibility and controlled release of molecules, and myriad hydrogels thus have been studied for biomedical applications. In the past few decades, research in these areas has shifted increasingly to multicomponent hydrogels that better capture the multifunctional nature of native biological environments and that offer opportunities to selectively tailor materials properties. This review summarizes recent approaches aimed at producing multicomponent hydrogels, with descriptions of contemporary chemical and physical approaches for forming networks, and of the use of both synthetic and biologically derived molecules to impart desired properties. Specific multicomponent materials with enhanced mechanical properties are presented, as well as materials in which multiple biological functions are imparted for applications in tissue engineering, cancer treatment, and gene therapies. The progress in the field suggests significant promise for these approaches in the development of biomedically relevant materials.Biomacromolecules 11/2014; 16(1). DOI:10.1021/bm501361c · 5.79 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The density of integrin-binding ligands in an extracellular matrix (ECM) is known to regulate cell migration speed by imposing a balance of traction forces between the leading and trailing edges of the cell, but the effect of cell-adhesive ligands on neurite chemoattraction is not well understood. A platform is presented here that combines gradient-generating microfluidic devices with 3D protein-engineered hydrogels to study the effect of RGD ligand density on neurite pathfinding from chick dorsal root ganglia-derived spheroids. Spheroids are encapsulated in elastin-like polypeptide (ELP) hydrogels presenting either 3.2 or 1.6 mM RGD ligands and exposed to a microfluidic gradient of nerve growth factor (NGF). While the higher ligand density matrix enhanced neurite initiation and persistence of neurite outgrowth, the lower ligand density matrix significantly improved neurite pathfinding and increased the frequency of growth cone turning up the NGF gradient. The apparent trade-off between neurite extension and neurite guidance is reminiscent of the well-known trade-off between adhesive forces at the leading and trailing edges of a migrating cell, implying that a similar matrix-mediated balance of forces regulates neurite elongation and growth cone turning. These results have implications in the design of engineered materials for in vitro models of neural tissue and in vivo nerve guidance channels.Small 10/2014; 11(6). DOI:10.1002/smll.201401574 · 7.51 Impact Factor