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Thermally Reversible Hydrogels via Intramolecular Folding and Consequent Self-Assembly of a de Novo Designed Peptide

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journal contribution
posted on 06.09.2003, 00:00 by Darrin J. Pochan, Joel P. Schneider, Juliana Kretsinger, Bulent Ozbas, Karthikan Rajagopal, Lisa Haines
A small de novo designed peptide (MAX3) is described that exhibits complete thermoreversible self-assembly into a hydrogel network. Importantly, a prerequisite to hydrogelation is that the peptide must first fold into a conformation conducive to self-assembly. At ambient temperature, MAX3 is unfolded, resulting in a low viscosity aqueous solution. On increasing the temperature, the peptide undergoes a unimolecular folding event, affording an amphiphilic β-hairpin that consequently self-assembles into a hydrogel network. Increasing the temperature serves to dehydrate the nonpolar residues of the unfolded peptide and trigger folding via hydrophobic collapse. Cooling the resultant hydrogel results in β-hairpin unfolding and consequent complete dissolution of the hydrogel. The temperature at which folding and consequent self-assembly into a rigid hydrogel occur can be tuned by altering the hydrophobicity of the peptides.