Rational design of a photo-responsive UVR8-derived protein and a self-assembling peptide–protein conjugate for responsive hydrogel formation†
Responsive hydrogels hold great potential in controllable drug delivery, regenerative medicine, sensing, etc. We introduced in this study the first example of a photo-responsive protein for hydrogel formation. Based on the first example of the crystal structure of a photo-responsive protein, Arabidopsis thaliana protein UVR8, we designed and expressed its derived protein UVR8-1 with a hexa-peptide WRESAI. We also prepared supramolecular nanofibers with a TIP-1 protein at their surface. The simple mixing of these two components resulted in rapid hydrogel formation through the specific interactions between the protein TIP-1 and the peptide WRESAI. Since the protein could show a reversible dimer–monomer transformation, the resulting gels also showed a reversible gel–sol phase transition which was controlled by photo-irradiation. The photo-controllable gel–sol phase transition could be applied for protein delivery and cell separation.