Molecularly Engineered Self-Assembling Membranes for Cell-Mediated Degradation
The use of peptide engineering to develop self-assembling membranes that are responsive to cellular enzyme activities is reported. The membranes are obtained by combining hyaluronan (HA) and a rationally designed peptide amphiphile (PA) containing a proteolytic domain (GPQGIWGQ octapeptide) sensitive to matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1). Insertion of an octapeptide in a typical PA structure does not disturb its self-assembly into fibrillar nanostructures neither the ability to form membranes with HA. In vitro enzymatic degradation with hyaluronidase and MMP-1 shows that membranes containing the MMP-1 substrate exhibit enhanced enzymatic degradation, compared with control membranes (absence of MMP-1 cleavable peptide or containing a MMP-1 insensitive sequence), being completely degraded after 7 days. Cell viability and proliferation is minimally affected by the enzymatically cleavable functionality of the membrane, but the presence of MMP-1 cleavable sequence does stimulate the secretion of MMP-1 by fibroblasts and interfere with matrix deposition, particularly the deposition of collagen. By showing cell-responsiveness to biochemical signals presented on self-assembling membranes, this study highlights the ability of modulating certain cellular activities through matrix engineering. This concept can be further explored to understand the cellular remodeling process and as a strategy to develop artificial matrices with more biomimetic degradation for tissue engineering applications.