Sequential Thiol-Ene and Tetrazine Click Reactions for the Polymerization and Functionalization of Hydrogel Microparticles. Academic Article uri icon


  • Click chemistry is a versatile tool for the synthesis and functionalization of polymeric biomaterials. Here, we describe a versatile new strategy for producing bioactive, protein-functionalized poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) hydrogel microparticles that is based on sequential thiol-ene and tetrazine click reactions. Briefly, tetra-functional PEG-norbornene macromer and dithiothreitol (SH) cross-linker were combined at a 0.75:1 [SH]:[norbornene] ratio, emulsified in a continuous Dextran phase, and then photopolymerized to form PEG hydrogel microparticles that varied from 8 to 30 m in diameter, depending on the PEG concentration used. Subsequently, tetrazine-functionalized protein was conjugated to unreacted norbornene groups in the PEG microparticles. Tetrazine-mediated protein tethering to the microparticles was first demonstrated using fluorescein-labeled ovalbumin as a model protein. Subsequently, bioactive protein tethering was demonstrated using alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and glucose oxidase (GOx). Enzyme activity assays demonstrated that both ALP and GOx maintained their bioactivity and imparted tunable bioactivity to the microparticles that depended on the amount of enzyme added. ALP-functionalized microparticles were also observed to initiate calcium phosphate mineralization in vitro when incubated with calcium glycerophosphate. Collectively, these results show that protein-functionalized hydrogel microparticles with tunable bioactive properties can be easily synthesized using sequential click chemistry reactions. This approach has potential for future applications in tissue engineering, drug delivery, and biosensing.

published proceedings

  • Biomacromolecules

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Jivan, F., Yegappan, R., Pearce, H., Carrow, J. K., McShane, M., Gaharwar, A. K., & Alge, D. L.

citation count

  • 47

complete list of authors

  • Jivan, Faraz||Yegappan, Ramanathan||Pearce, Hannah||Carrow, James K||McShane, Michael||Gaharwar, Akhilesh K||Alge, Daniel L

publication date

  • November 2016