Dopamine self-polymerization as a simple and powerful tool to modulate the viscoelastic mechanical properties of peptide-based gels

Galit Fichman, Joel P. Schneider*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Dopamine is a small versatile molecule used for various biotechnological and biomedical applications. This neurotransmitter, in addition to its biological role, can undergo oxidative selfpolymerization to yield polydopamine, a robust universal coating material. Herein, we harness dopamine self-polymerization to modulate the viscoelastic mechanical properties of peptide-based gels, expanding their ever-growing application potential. By combining rapid peptide assembly with slower dopamine auto-polymerization, a double network gel is formed, where the fibrillar peptide gel network serves as a scaffold for polydopamine deposition, allowing polydopamine to interpenetrate the gel network as well as establishing crosslinks within the matrix. We have shown that triggering the assembly of a lysine-rich peptide gelator in the presence of dopamine can increase the mechanical rigidity of the resultant gel by a factor of 90 in some cases, while retaining the gel’s shear thin-recovery behavior. We further investigate how factors such as polymerization time, dopamine concentration and peptide concentration alter the mechanical properties of the resultant gel. The hybrid peptide-dopamine gel systems were characterized using rheological measurements, circular dichroism spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy. Overall, triggering peptide gelation in the presence of dopamine represents a simple yet powerful approach to modulate the viscoelastic mechanical properties of peptide-based gels.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number1363
JournalMolecules
Volume26
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 4 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Keywords

  • Dopamine
  • Hydrogel
  • Peptide
  • Self-assembly

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