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Self-Assembling Multidomain Peptides: Design and Characterization of Neutral Peptide-Based Materials with pH and Ionic Strength Independent Self-Assembly

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journal contribution
posted on 20.12.2018, 21:18 by Tania L. Lopez-Silva, David G. Leach, I-Che Li, Xinran Wang, Jeffrey D. Hartgerink
Self-assembly of peptides is a powerful method of preparing nanostructured materials. These peptides frequently utilize charged groups as a convenient switch for controlling self-assembly in which pH or ionic strength determines the assembly state. Multidomain peptides have been previously designed with charged domains of amino acids, which create molecular frustration between electrostatic repulsion and a combination of supramolecular forces including hydrogen bonding and hydrophobic packing. This frustration is eliminated by the addition of multivalent ions or pH adjustment, resulting in a self-assembled hydrogel. However, these charged functionalities can have profound, unintended effects on the properties of the resulting material. Access to neutral self-assembled nanostructured hydrogels may allow for distinct biological properties that are not available to highly charged analogues. Here, we designed a series of peptides to determine if self-assembly could be mediated by the steric interactions created by neutral hydroxyproline (O) domains, eliminating the need for charged residues and creating a neutral peptide hydrogel. The series of peptides, On(SL)6On, was studied to determine the effect of oligo-hydroxyproline on peptide self-assembly and nanostructure. We show that peptide solubility and nanofiber length increase with a higher number of hydroxyproline residues. Within this series, O5(SL)6O5 displayed the optimal properties for self-assembly and hydrogelation. In vitro, this hydrogel supports cell viability of fibroblasts, while in vivo it is infiltrated with cells and easily degraded over time without promoting a strong inflammatory response. This neutral self-assembling peptide hydrogel shows promising properties for biomedical, cell preservation, and tissue regeneration applications.

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