Versatile Click-Protein Hydrogels for Biomedical Applications
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2017 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim Protein hydrogels made entirely of host proteins should be of great value to the field of regenerative medicine. A versatile and efficient approach to transform any protein into hydrogels is presented. This strategy is based on the copper-free click chemistry reaction between azide (N3) and dibenzylcyclooctyne (DBCO). The target proteins are first individually functionalized with N3 or DBCO, and then mixed under physiological condition to trigger the spontaneous formation of a highly crosslinked protein network or hydrogel through the click reaction. The resulting click hydrogels exhibited high solution stability, interconnected porous network, tunable compressive moduli ranging from 2 to 200 kPa, adjustable stress-relaxation time (t1/2) between 5 and 2200 s, shape-memory property, self-healing ability and the ability to support mammalian cells attachment on 2D and 3D microenvironment, pointing to their great potential in tissue engineering for diverse biomedical applications.