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Controlling stiffness in nanostructured hydrogels produced by enzymatic dephosphorylation

Thornton, K. and Smith, A.M. and Merry, C.L.R. and Ulijn, R.V. (2009) Controlling stiffness in nanostructured hydrogels produced by enzymatic dephosphorylation. Biochemical Society Transactions, 37 (4). pp. 660-664. ISSN 0300-5127

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In the present paper, we report on enzyme-initiated self-assembly of Fmoc (fluoren-9-ylmethoxycarbonyl)- tyrosine hydrogels by enzymatic dephosphorylation under physiological conditions and provide evidence for the ability to control the modulus. Upon enzyme action, a self-assembling network of interconnecting fibres is formed, observed by cryo-SEM (scanning electron microscopy) and TEM (transmission electron microscopy). The concentration of alkaline phosphatase added to the Fmoc-tyrosine phosphate ester precursor solution had a direct effect on the gelation time, mechanical properties and molecular arrangements as determined through oscillatory rheology, fluorescence spectroscopy and CD spectroscopy. This highly tuneable costeffective gel system may have applications in three-dimensional cell culture.