Biomolecular hydrogels formed and degraded via site-specific enzymatic reactions

Martin Ehrbar, Simone C. Rizzi, Ronald G. Schoenmakers, Blanca San Miguel, J. A. Hubbell, Franz E. Weber, Matthias P. Lutoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

209 Scopus citations


We present polymeric hydrogel biomaterials that are biomimetic both in their synthesis and degradation. The design of oligopeptide building blocks with dual enzymatic responsiveness allows us to create polymer networks that are formed and functionalized via enzymatic reactions and are degradable via other enzymatic reactions, both occurring under physiological conditions. The activated transglutaminase enzyme factor XIIIa was utilized for site-specific coupling of prototypical cell adhesion ligands and for simultaneous cross-linking of hydrogel networks from factor XIIIa substrate-modified multiarm poly(ethylene glycol) macromers. Ligand incorporation is nearly quantitative and thus controllable, and does not alter the network's macroscopic properties over a concentration range that elicits specific cell adhesion. Living mammalian cells can be encapsulated in the gels without any noticeable decrease in viability. The degradation of gels can be engineered to occur, for example, via cell-secreted matrix metalloproteinases, thus rendering these gels interesting for biomedical applications such as drug delivery systems or smart implants for in situ tissue engineering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3000-3007
Number of pages8
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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