Self-assembled peptide-based hydrogels are emerging materials that have been exploited for wound healing, drug delivery, tissue engineering, and other applications. In comparison to synthetic polymer hydrogels, supramolecular peptide-based gels have advantages in biocompatibility, biodegradability, and ease of synthesis and modification. Modification of the emergent viscoelasticity of peptide hydrogels in a stimulus responsive fashion is a longstanding goal in the development of next-generation materials. In an effort to selectively modulate hydrogel viscoelasticity, we report herein a method to enhance the elasticity of β-sheet peptide hydrogels using specific molecular recognition events between functionalized hydrogel fibrils and biomolecules. Two distinct biomolecular recognition strategies are demonstrated: oligonucleotide Watson-Crick duplex formation between peptide nucleic acid (PNA) modified fibrils with a bridging oligonucleotide and protein-ligand recognition between mannose modified fibrils with concanavalin A. These methods to modulate hydrogel elasticity should be broadly adaptable in the context of these materials to a wide variety of molecular recognition partners.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We acknowledge support from the National Science Foundation (DMR-1148836) for this research. We also thank Karen Bentley (URMC Electron Microscope Research Core) for assistance with TEM experiments.
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