The mechanical properties of the extracellular environment are thought to influence cell phenotype and play a key role in the progression of many diseases, such as valvular fibrosis. Unfortunately, many traditional cell culture substrates have unnaturally high elastic moduli, and it has been difficult to probedynamicchanges in stiffness without also changing the chemical composition of the substrate. To address these issues, my proposed research aims to develop a peptide-crosslinked poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogel substrate that can reversibly stiffen upon exposure to controlled wavelengths of light. Specifically, a photoisomerization reaction will occur upon light exposure, causing a change in peptide conformation that will yield a corresponding change in hydrogel stiffness. We anticipate that this design will enable reversible changes in the mechanical properties of the gel while maintaining both the crosslinking density and the network connectivity. The developed hydrogels will be a useful model system to study the effect of dynamic environmental stiffness on cellular phenotype.
A.M. Rosales, R.A. Segalman, R.N. Zuckermann. “Polypeptoids: A Model System to Study the Effect of Monomer Sequence on Polymer Properties and Self-Assembly.” Soft Matter 2013, DOI: 10.1039/C3SM51421H.
A.M. Rosales, B.L. McCulloch, R.N. Zuckermann, R.A. Segalman. “Tunable Phase Behavior of Polystyrene-Polypeptoid Block Copolymers.” Macromolecules 2012,45(15), 6027-6035.
A.M. Rosales, H.K. Murnen, S.R. Kline, R.N. Zuckermann, R.A. Segalman. “Determination of the Persistence Length of Helical and Non-Helical Polypeptoids in Solution.” Soft Matter 2012, 8, 3673-3680.
A.M. Rosales, H.K. Murnen, R.N. Zuckermann, R.A. Segalman. “Control of Crystallization and Melting Behavior in Sequence Specific Polypeptoids.” Macromolecules 2010, 43(13), 5627-5636.