My work focuses on developing new chemistry to control hydrogel material properties in the presence of cells. Specifically, I have developed an allyl sulfide handle that enables reversible and repeatable patterning of signaling proteins in hydrogels (Figure 1). Additionally, I am also employing the allyl sulfide handle as a method to soften hydrogels rapidly in situ. I am employing these materials to explore how immune cells and cytokines affect the progression of aortic valve stenosis.
Figure 1. GFP-Smad3-expressing mouse embryonic fibroblasts respond to TGF-β1 patterned hydrogels. (A) MEFs seeded within TGF-β1 patterns on the hydrogel show nuclear localization of the GFP-Smad3 reporter. (B) Inset of the merged image shows cells within the pattern contain the reporter in the nucleus. (C, D) MEFs seeded on unpatterned gels show cytoplasmic localization of the Smad3 reporter. (E) Mean nuclear GFP signal was measured using ImageJ and at least 260 cells per condition. Letters ‘a’, ‘b’, and ‘c’ denote groups that are statistically distinct (p < 0.001) according to two-way ANOVA with Bonferroni testing for multiple comparisons. Data are shown as mean ± standard error (SEM).