J Mater Chem B 2014 Dec;2(46):8123-8130
Departments of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Materials Science and Engineering, Laboratory for Synthetic-Biologic Interactions, Texas A&M University, P.O. BOX 30012, 3255 TAMU, College Station, TX 77842, USA.
A multi-responsive triblock hydrogelator oligo(dl-allylglycine)--poly(ethylene glycol)-oligo(dl-allylglycine) (ODLAG--PEG--ODLAG) was synthesized facilely by ring-opening polymerization (ROP) of DLAG -carboxyanhydride (NCA) with a diamino-terminated PEG as the macroinitiator. This system exhibited heat-induced sol-to-gel transitions and either sonication- or enzyme-induced gel-to-sol transitions. The -sheeting of the oligopeptide segments was confirmed by attenuated total reflection Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR) and wide-angle X-ray scattering (WAXS). The -sheets further displayed tertiary ordering into fibrillar structures that, in turn generated a porous and interconnected hydrogel matrix, as observed transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The reversible macroscopic sol-to-gel transitions triggered by heat and gel-to-sol transitions triggered by sonication were correlated with the transformation of nanostructural morphologies, with fibrillar structures observed in gel and spherical aggregates in sol, respectively. The enzymatic breakdown of the hydrogels was also investigated. This allyl-functionalized hydrogelator can serve as a platform for the design of smart hydrogels, appropriate for expansion into biological systems as bio-functional and bio-responsive materials.