Protein–polysaccharide complexes for enhanced protein delivery in hyaluronic acid templated calcium carbonate microparticles
The controlled delivery of proteins within calcium carbonate (CaCO3) particles is currently widely investigated. The success of these carriers is driven by ionic interactions between the encapsulated proteins and the particles. This poses a great limitation on the successful loading of proteins that have no ionic affinity to CaCO3. In this study, we explored the use of polysaccharide–protein interactions to strongly enhance the encapsulation of proteins in CaCO3 microparticles. Previously, Vandevenne and colleagues inserted a human chitin binding domain (ChBD) that has intrinsic affinity for hyaluronic acid (HA) into a β-lactamase (BlaP). This generated chimeric protein, named BlaPChBD, was shown to be fully bifunctional. In this study we showed that this hybrid protein can associate with HA and be successfully loaded into vaterite CaCO3 microparticles using supercritical CO2 (ScCO2) technology aided by the templating effect of HA on CaCO3. The presence of ChBD inserted into BlaP increased the encapsulation of the protein by 6-fold when complexed with HA. Furthermore, thrombin cleavage sites were engineered on both sides of the inserted ChBD in the chimeric BlaP to achieve release of the protein from the microparticles by protease cleavage. Our results showed that thrombin cleavage increased the release of the protein from the microparticles within 36 hours from <20% to 87%. In conclusion, the presence of ChBD successfully improved the encapsulation yield of the protein while retaining up to 82% of its activity and efficient release of the protein from the microparticles was achieved by protease cleavage.