Inducible Fibril Formation of Silk-Elastin Diblocks

Lione Willems, Stefan Roberts, Isaac Weitzhandler, Ashutosh Chilkoti, Enrico Mastrobattista, John Van Der Oost, Renko De Vries*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Silk-elastin block copolymers have such physical and biological properties that make them attractive biomaterials for applications ranging from tissue regeneration to drug delivery. Silk-elastin block copolymers that only assemble into fibrils at high concentrations can be used for a template-induced fibril assembly. This can be achieved by additionally including template-binding blocks that promote high local concentrations of polymers on the template, leading to a template-induced fibril assembly. We hypothesize that template-inducible silk-fibril formation, and hence high critical concentrations for fibril formation, requires careful tuning of the block lengths, to be close to a critical set of block lengths that separates fibril forming from nonfibril forming polymer architectures. Therefore, we explore herein the impact of tuning block lengths for silk-elastin diblock polypeptides on fibril formation. For silk-elastin diblocks ESm-SQn, in which the elastin pentamer repeat is ES = GSGVP and the crystallizable silk octamer repeat is SQ = GAGAGAGQ, we find that no fibril formation occurs for n = 6 but that the n = 10 and 14 diblocks do show concentration-dependent fibril formation. For n = 14 diblocks, no effect is observed of the length m (with m = 40, 60, 80) of the amorphous block on the lengths of the fibrils. In contrast, for the n = 10 diblocks that are closest to the critical boundary for fibril formation, we find that long amorphous blocks (m = 80) oppose the growth of fibrils at low concentrations, making them suitable for engineering template-inducible fibril formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9135-9143
Number of pages9
JournalACS Omega
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2019

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