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We recently developed a self-assembling peptide, E1Y9, that self-assembles into nanofibers and forms a hydrogel in the presence of Ca(2+) . E1Y9 derivatives conjugated with functional peptide sequences derived from extracellular matrices (ECMs) reportedly self-assemble into peptide nanofibers that enhance cell adhesion and differentiation. In this study, E1Y9/E1Y9-IKVAV mixed hydrogels were constructed to serve as artificial ECMs that promote cell differentiation. E1Y9 and E1Y9-IKVAV co-assembled into networked nanofibers, and hydrogels with disk and string shapes were formed in response to Ca(2+) treatment. The neuronal differentiation of PC12 cells was facilitated on hydrogels of both shapes that contained the IKVAV motifs. Moreover, long neurites extended along the long axis of the string-shaped gel, suggesting that the structure of hydrogels of this shape can affect cellular orientation. Thus, E1Y9 hydrogels can potentially be used as artificial ECMs with desirable bioactivities and shapes that could be useful in tissue engineering applications. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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