Val-ala-pro-gly, an elastin-derived non-integrin ligand: smooth muscle cell adhesion and specificity.
The elastin-derived peptide val-ala-pro-gly (VAPG) may be useful as a biospecific cell adhesion ligand for smooth muscle cells. By grafting the peptide sequence into a hydrogel material, we were able to assess its effects on smooth muscle cell adhesion and spreading. These materials are photopolymerizable hydrogels based on acrylate-terminated derivatives of polyethylene glycol (PEG). Because of their high PEG content, these materials are highly resistant to protein adsorption and cell adhesion. However, PEG diacrylate derivatives can be mixed with adhesive peptide-modified PEG monoacrylate derivatives to facilitate cell adhesion. Following photopolymerization, PEG monoacrylate derivatives are grafted into the hydrogel network formed by the PEG diacrylate. This results in covalent immobilization of adhesive peptides to the hydrogel via a flexible linker chain. The resistance of PEG to protein adsorption makes it an ideal material for this model system since cell-material interactions are limited to biomolecules that are covalently incorporated into the material. In this case we were able to demonstrate that VAPG is specific for adhesion of smooth muscle cells. It also was shown that fibroblasts, endothelial cells, and platelets cannot adhere to VAPG. In addition, not only was smooth muscle cell adhesion dependent on ligand concentration, but also cell spreading increased with increasing ligand concentration.
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