SELF-ASSEMBLY OF SILK-ELASTINLIKE PROTEIN POLYMERS INTO THREE-DIMENSIONAL SCAFFOLDS FOR BIOMEDICAL APPLICATIONS
3D cell culture
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractProduction of brand new protein-based materials with precise control over the amino acid sequences at single residue level has been made possible by genetic engineering, through which artificial genes can be developed that encode protein-based materials with desired features. As an example, silk-elastinlike protein polymers (SELPs), composed of tandem repeats of amino acid sequence motifs from Bombyx mori (silkworm) silk and mammalian elastin, have been produced in this approach. SELPs have been studied extensively in the past two decades, however, the fundamental mechanism governing the self-assembly process to date still remains largely unresolved. Further, regardless of the unprecedented success when exploited in areas including drug delivery, gene therapy, and tissue augmentation, SELPs scaffolds as a three-dimensional cell culture model system are complicated by the inability of SELPs to provide the embedded tissue cells with appropriate biochemical stimuli essential for cell survival and function. In this dissertation, it is reported that the self-assembly of silk-elastinlike protein polymers (SELPs) into nanofibers in aqueous solutions can be modulated by tuning the curing temperature, the size of the silk blocks, and the charge of the elastin blocks. A core-sheath model was proposed for nanofiber formation, with the silk blocks in the cores and the hydrated elastin blocks in the sheaths. The folding of the silk blocks into stable cores - affected by the size of the silk blocks and the charge of the elastin blocks - plays a critical role in the assembly of silk-elastin nanofibers. The assembled nanofibers further form nanofiber clusters on the microscale, and the nanofiber clusters then coalesce into nanofiber micro-assemblies, interconnection of which eventually leads to the formation of three-dimensional scaffolds with distinct nanoscale and microscale features. SELP-Collagen hybrid scaffolds were also fabricated to enable independent control over the scaffolds' biochemical input and matrix stiffness. It is reported herein that in the hybrid scaffolds, collagen provides essential biochemical cues needed to promote cell attachment and function while SELP imparts matrix stiffness tunability. To obtain tissue-specificity in matrix stiffness that spans over several orders of magnitude covering from soft brain to stiff cartilage, the hybrid SELP-Collagen scaffolds were crosslinked by transglutaminase at physiological conditions compatible for simultaneous cell encapsulation. The effect of the increase in matrix stiffness induced by such enzymatic crosslinking on cellular viability and proliferation was also evaluated using in vitro cell assays.
Degree ProgramGraduate College