Mussel-inspired histidine-based transient network metal coordination hydrogels

Dominic E. Fullenkamp, Lihong He, Devin G. Barrett, Wesley R. Burghardt, Phillip B. Messersmith*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

253 Scopus citations


Transient network hydrogels cross-linked through histidine-divalent cation coordination bonds were studied by conventional rheologic methods using histidine-modified star poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) polymers. These materials were inspired by the mussel, which is thought to use histidine-metal coordination bonds to impart self-healing properties in the mussel byssal thread. Hydrogel viscoelastic mechanical properties were studied as a function of metal, pH, concentration, and ionic strength. The equilibrium metal-binding constants were determined by dilute solution potentiometric titration of monofunctional histidine-modified methoxy-PEG and were found to be consistent with binding constants of small molecule analogues previously studied. pH-dependent speciation curves were then calculated using the equilibrium constants determined by potentiometric titration, providing insight into the pH dependence of histidine-metal ion coordination and guiding the design of metal coordination hydrogels. Gel relaxation dynamics were found to be uncorrelated with the equilibrium constants measured, but were correlated to the expected coordination bond dissociation rate constants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1167-1174
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 12 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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