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Engineering Protein Hydrogels Using SpyCatcher-SpyTag Chemistry

Gao, Xiaoye, Fang, Jie, Xue, Bin, Fu, Linglan, Li, Hongbin
Biomacromolecules 2016 v.17 no.9 pp. 2812-2819
biocompatibility, drug carriers, drugs, encapsulation, fibroblasts, functional properties, humans, hydrogels, proteins, tissue engineering
Constructing hydrogels from engineered proteins has attracted significant attention within the material sciences, owing to their myriad potential applications in biomedical engineering. Developing efficient methods to cross-link tailored protein building blocks into hydrogels with desirable mechanical, physical, and functional properties is of paramount importance. By making use of the recently developed SpyCatcher-SpyTag chemistry, we successfully engineered protein hydrogels on the basis of engineered tandem modular elastomeric proteins. Our resultant protein hydrogels are soft but stable, and show excellent biocompatibility. As the first step, we tested the use of these hydrogels as a drug carrier, as well as in encapsulating human lung fibroblast cells. Our results demonstrate the robustness of the SpyCatcher-SpyTag chemistry, even when the SpyTag (or SpyCatcher) is flanked by folded globular domains. These results demonstrate that SpyCatcher-SpyTag chemistry can be used to engineer protein hydrogels from tandem modular elastomeric proteins that can find applications in tissue engineering, in fundamental mechano-biological studies, and as a controlled drug release vehicle.