The design of self-assembled peptide-based structures for three-dimensional cell culture and tissue repair has been a key objective in biomaterials science for decades. In search of the simplest possible peptide system that can self-assemble, we discovered that combinations of di-peptides that are modified with aromatic stacking ligands could form nanometre-sized fibres when exposed to physiological conditions. For example, we demonstrated that a number of Fmoc (fluoren-9-ylmethyloxycarbonyl) modified di- and tri-peptides form highly ordered hydrogels via hydrogen-bonding and π–π interactions from the fluorenyl rings. These highly hydrated gels allowed for cell proliferation of chondrocytes in three dimensions [Jayawarna, Ali, Jowitt, Miller, Saiani, Gough and Ulijn (2006) Adv. Mater. 18, 611–614]. We demonstrated that fibrous architecture and physical properties of the resulting materials were dictated by the nature of the amino acid building blocks. Here, we report the self-assembly process of three di-phenylalanine analogues, Fmoc-Phe-Phe-OH, Nap (naphthalene)-Phe-Phe-OH and Cbz (benzyloxycarbonyl)-Phe-Phe-OH, to compare and contrast the self-assembly properties and cell culture conditions attributable to their protecting group difference. Fibre morphology analysis of the three structures using cryo-SEM (scanning electron microscopy) and TEM (transmission electron microscopy) suggested fibrous structures with dramatically varying fibril dimensions, depending on the aromatic ligand used. CD and FTIR (Fourier-transform IR) data confirmed β-sheet arrangements in all three samples in the gel state. The ability of these three new hydrogels to support cell proliferation of chondrocytes was confirmed for all three materials.
Conference Article| May 22 2007
Three-dimensional cell culture of chondrocytes on modified di-phenylalanine scaffolds
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V. Jayawarna, A. Smith, J.E. Gough, R.V. Ulijn; Three-dimensional cell culture of chondrocytes on modified di-phenylalanine scaffolds. Biochem Soc Trans 1 June 2007; 35 (3): 535–537. doi: https://doi.org/10.1042/BST0350535
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