) nanoscaffolds are excellent candidates for use as peptide delivery vehicles: they are relatively easy to synthesize with custom bio-functionality, and assemble in situ to allow a focal point of release. This enables (RADA)4
to be utilized in multiple release strategies by embedding a variety of bioactive molecules in an all-in-one “construct”. One novel strategy focuses on the local, on-demand release of peptides triggered via proteolysis of tethered peptide sequences. However, the spatial-temporal morphology of self-assembling nanoscaffolds may greatly influence the ability of enzymes to both diffuse into as well as actively cleave substrates. Fine structure and its impact on the overall effect on peptide release is poorly understood. In addition, fractal networks observed in nanoscaffolds are linked to the fractal nature of diffusion in these systems. Therefore, matrix morphology and fractal dimension of virgin (RADA)4
and mixtures of (RADA)4
and matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP-2) cleavable substrate modified (RADA)4
were characterized over time. Sites of high (glycine-proline-glutamine-glycine+isoleucine-alanine-serine-glutamine (GPQG+IASQ), CP1) and low (glycine-proline-glutamine-glycine+proline-alanine-glycine-glutamine (GPQG+PAGQ), CP2) cleavage activity were chosen. Fine structure was visualized using transmission electron microscopy. After 2 h of incubation, nanofiber networks showed an established fractal nature; however, nanofibers continued to bundle in all cases as incubation times increased. It was observed that despite extensive nanofiber bundling after 24 h of incubation time, the CP1 and CP2 nanoscaffolds were susceptible to MMP-2 cleavage. The properties of these engineered nanoscaffolds characterized herein illustrate that they are an excellent candidate as an enzymatically initiated peptide delivery platform.
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