ECM-incorporated hydrogels cross-linked via native chemical ligation to engineer stem cell microenvironments

Jangwook P. Jung, Anthony J. Sprangers, John R. Byce, Jing Su, Jayne M. Squirrell, Phillip B. Messersmith, Kevin W. Eliceiri, Brenda M. Ogle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Limiting the precise study of the biochemical impact of whole molecule extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins on stem cell differentiation is the lack of 3D in vitro models that can accommodate many different types of ECM. Here we sought to generate such a system while maintaining consistent mechanical properties and supporting stem cell survival. To this end, we used native chemical ligation to cross-link poly(ethylene glycol) macromonomers under mild conditions while entrapping ECM proteins (termed ECM composites) and stem cells. Sufficiently low concentrations of ECM were used to maintain constant storage moduli and pore size. Viability of stem cells in composites was maintained over multiple weeks. ECM of composites encompassed stem cells and directed the formation of distinct structures dependent on ECM type. Thus, we introduce a powerful approach to study the biochemical impact of multiple ECM proteins (either alone or in combination) on stem cell behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3102-3111
Number of pages10
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 9 2013


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