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Synthetic transient crosslinks program the mechanics of soft, biopolymer-based materials

: Lorenz, Jessica; Schnauß, Jörg; Glaser, Martin; Sajfutdinow, Martin; Schuldt, Carsten; Käs, Josef A.; Smith, David M.

Postprint urn:nbn:de:0011-n-4843724 (2.8 MByte PDF)
MD5 Fingerprint: b61040923511e81272590173c42e4df6
Created on: 20.2.2018

Advanced Materials 30 (2018), No.13, Art. 1706092, 8 pp.
ISSN: 0935-9648
ISSN: 1521-4095
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IZI ()
biomimetic material; biopolymers; DNA nanotechnology; molecular design; crosslinkers

Actin networks are adaptive materials enabling dynamic and static functions of living cells. A central element for tuning their underlying structural and mechanical properties is the ability to reversibly connect, i.e., transiently crosslink, filaments within the networks. Natural crosslinkers, however, vary across many parameters. Therefore, systematically studying the impact of their fundamental properties like size and binding strength is unfeasible since their structural parameters cannot be independently tuned. Herein, this problem is circumvented by employing a modular strategy to construct purely synthetic actin crosslinkers from DNA and peptides. These crosslinkers mimic both intuitive and noncanonical mechanical properties of their natural counterparts. By isolating binding affinity as the primary control parameter, effects on structural and dynamic behaviors of actin networks are characterized. A concentration-dependent triphasic behavior arises from both strong and weak crosslinkers due to emergent structural polymorphism. Beyond a certain threshold, strong binding leads to a nonmonotonic elastic pulse, which is a consequence of self-destruction of the mechanical structure of the underlying network. The modular design also facilitates an orthogonal regulatory mechanism based on enzymatic cleaving. This approach can be used to guide the rational design of further biomimetic components for programmable modulation of the properties of biomaterials and cells.