Ion-Triggered Hydrogels Self-Assembled from Statistical Copolypeptides

Bing Wu, Saltuk B. Hanay, Scott D. Kimmins, Sally Ann Cryan, Daniel Hermida Merino, Andreas Heise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Statistical copolypeptides comprising lysine and tyrosine with unprecedented ion-induced gelation behavior are reported. Copolypeptides are obtained by one-step N-carboxyanhydride (NCA) ring-opening polymerization. The gelation mechanism is studied by in situ SAXS analyses, in addition to optical spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). It is found that the gelation of these statistically polymerized polypeptides is due to the formation of stable intermolecular β-sheet secondary structures induced by the presence of salt ions as well as the aggregation of an α-helix between the copolypeptides. This behavior is unique to the statistical lysine/tyrosine copolypeptides and was not observed in any other amino acid combination or arrangement. Furthermore, the diffusion and mechanical properties of these hydrogels can be tuned through tailoring the polypeptide chain length and ion strength.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-328
Number of pages6
JournalACS Macro Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - 15 Mar 2022


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