Deformation responses of a physically cross-linked high molecular weight elastin-like protein polymer

Xiaoyi Wu, Rory E. Sallach, Jeffrey M. Caves, Vincent P. Conticello, Elliot L. Chaikof

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Recombinant protein polymers were synthesized and examined under various loading conditions to assess the mechanical stability and deformation responses of physically cross-linked, hydrated, protein polymer networks designed as triblock copolymers with central elastomeric and flanking plastic-like blocks. Uniaxial stress-strain properties, creep and stress relaxation behavior, as well as the effect of various mechanical preconditioning protocols on these responses were characterized. Significantly, we demonstrate for the first time that ABA triblock protein copolymers when redesigned with substantially larger endblock segments can withstand significantly greater loads. Furthermore, the presence of three distinct phases of deformation behavior was revealed upon subjecting physically cross-linked protein networks to step and cyclic loading protocols in which the magnitude of the imposed stress was incrementally increased over time. We speculate that these phases correspond to the stretch of polypeptide bonds, the conformational changes of polypeptide chains, and the disruption of physical cross-links. The capacity to select a genetically engineered protein polymer that is suitable for its intended application requires an appreciation of its viscoelastic characteristics and the capacity of both molecular structure and conditioning protocols to influence these properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1787-1794
Number of pages8
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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