Characterization of a genetically engineered elastin-like polypeptide for cartilaginous tissue repair

Helawe Betre, Lori A. Setton, Dan E. Meyer, Ashutosh Chilkoti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

245 Scopus citations


Elastin-like polypeptides (ELPs) are artificial polypeptides with unique properties that make them attractive as a biomaterial for tissue-engineered cartilage repair. ELPs are composed of a pentapeptide repeat, Val-Pro-Gly-Xaa-Gly (Xaa is any amino acid except Pro), that undergo an inverse temperature phase transition. They are soluble in aqueous solution below their transition temperature (Tt) but aggregate when the solution temperature is raised above their Tt. This study investigates the rheological behavior of an un-cross-linked ELP, below and above its Tt, and also examines the ability of ELP to promote chondrogenesis in vitro. A thermally responsive ELP with a Tt of 35 °C was synthesized using recombinant DNA techniques. The complex shear modulus of the ELP increased by 3 orders of magnitude as it underwent its inverse temperature phase transition, forming a coacervate, or gel-like, ELP phase. Values for the complex shear moduli of the un-cross-linked ELP coacervate are comparable to those reported previously for collagen, hyaluronan, and cross-linked synthetic hydrogels. Cell culture studies show that chondrocytes cultured in ELP coacervate maintain a rounded morphology and their chondrocytic phenotype, characterized by the synthesis of a significant amount of extracellular matrix composed of sulfated glycosaminoglycans and collagen. These results suggest that ELPs demonstrate great potential for use as in situ forming scaffolds for cartilaginous tissue repair.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)910-916
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2002


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