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Covalent incorporation of tobacco mosaic virus increases the stiffness of poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate hydrogels

: Southan, Alexander; Lang, Tina; Schweikert, M.; Tovar, Günter; Wege, Christina; Eiben, Sabine


RSC Advances 8 (2018), No.9, pp.4686-4694
ISSN: 2046-2069
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IGB ()

Hydrogels are versatile materials, finding applications as adsorbers, supports for biosensors and biocatalysts or as scaffolds for tissue engineering. A frequently used building block for chemically cross-linked hydrogels is poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEG-DA). However, after curing, PEG-DA hydrogels cannot be functionalized easily. In this contribution, the stiff, rod-like tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) is investigated as a functional additive to PEG-DA hydrogels. TMV consists of more than 2000 identical coat proteins and can therefore present more than 2000 functional sites per TMV available for coupling, and thus has been used as a template or building block for nano-scaled hybrid materials for many years. Here, PEG-DA (Mn ¼ 700 g mol1) hydrogels are combined with a thiol-group presenting TMV mutant (TMVCys). By covalent coupling of TMVCys into the hydrogel matrix via the thiol-Michael reaction, the storage modulus of the hydrogels is increased compared to pure PEG-DA hydrogels and to hydrogels containing wildtype TMV (wt-TMV) which is not coupled covalently into the hydrogel matrix. In contrast, the swelling behaviour of the hydrogels is not altered by TMVCys or wt-TMV. Transmission electron microscopy reveals that the TMV particles are well dispersed in the hydrogels without any large aggregates. These findings give rise to the conclusion that well-defined hydrogels were obtained which offer the possibility to use the incorporated TMV as multivalent carrier templates e.g. for enzymes in future studies.