Tunable Pentapeptide Self-Assembled β-Sheet Hydrogels.

11 Jun 2018

Oligopeptide-based supramolecular hydrogels hold promise in a range of applications. The gelation of these systems is hard to control, with minor alterations in the peptide sequence significantly influencing the self-assembly process. We explored three pentapeptide sequences with different charge distributions and discovered that they formed robust, pH-responsive hydrogels. By altering the concentration and charge distribution of the peptide sequence, the stiffness of the hydrogels could be tuned across two orders of magnitude (2-200 kPa). Also, through reassembly of the β-sheet interactions the hydrogels could self-heal and they demonstrated shear-thin behavior. Using spectroscopic and cryo-imaging techniques, we investigated the relationship between peptide sequence and molecular structure, and how these influence the mechanical properties of the hydrogel. These pentapeptide hydrogels with tunable morphology and mechanical properties have promise in tissue engineering, injectable delivery vectors, and 3D printing applications.