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1. WO2016149615 - POLYPEPTIDE COMPOSITIONS AND METHODS OF USING THE SAME

Note: Text based on automatic Optical Character Recognition processes. Please use the PDF version for legal matters

[ EN ]

POLYPEPTIDE COMPOSITIONS AND METHODS OF USING THE SAME

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims benefit under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 62/135,405 filed on March 19, 2015 and U.S. Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 62/173,653 filed June 10, 2015, the contents of which are incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.

SEQUENCE LISTING

[0002] This application contains a Sequence Listing which has been submitted in ASCII format via EFS-Web and is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. Said ASCII copy, is named 043214-084732-PCT_SL and is 78,282 bytes in size

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0003] The present invention relates to elastin like polypeptides (ELPs), hydrogels based ELPs, and their use in tissue engineering, wound healing, and other biomedical applications.

BACKGROUND

[0004] Elastic biomaterials have been developed by using both natural and synthetic polymers for a wide range of biomedical applications where elasticity plays a critical role. For example, elastic hydrogels are ideal for tissue engineering applications that require stretchable biomaterials (Shin SR, et al, ACS Nano 7, 2369-2380 (2013); Kharaziha M, et al, Biomaterials 35, 7346-7354 (2014); Paul A, et al, ACS Nano 8, 8050-8062 (2014); Annabi N, et al, Adv Funct Mater 23, 4950-4959 (2013)) such as engineering soft and elastic tissues, like skin and blood vessels (Bottcher-Haberzeth S, et al, Burns 36, 450-460 (2010); Kim TG, et al, Adv Funct Mater 22, 2446-2468 (2012)). Other biomedical applications including tissue adhesives (Annabi N, et al, Nano Today 9, 574-589 (2014); Elvin CM, et al, Biomaterials 31, 8323-8331 (2010)), smart hydrogels (Xia L-W, et al, Nat Commun 4, (2013)), and flexible electronics (Rogers JA, et al, Science 327, 1603-1607 (2010)) also demand materials with high elasticity and rapid response to applied mechanical forces. Synthetic elastomers (Wang Y, et al, Nat Biotech 20, 602-606 (2002)), interpenetrating networks (Omidian H, et al, Macromol Biosci 6, 703-710 (2006)), and nanocomposite hydrogels (Li Y, et al , Macromolecules 42, 2587-2593 (2009)) have been investigated for generating elastic substrates but properties such as cell adhesion, degradability, and overall biocompatibility must be artificially incorporated into these polymeric systems (Zhu J, et al, Expert review of medical devices 8, 607-626 (2011)).

[0005] Alternatively, recombinant protein-based polymers such as elastin-like polypeptides (ELPs) are biocompatible(MacEwan SR, et al, Biopolymers 94, 60-77 (2010); Nettles DL, et al, Adv Drug Delivery Rev 62, 1479-1485 (2010)) and have been widely investigated for biomedical applications (Nettles DL, et al, Adv Drug Delivery Rev 62, 1479-1485 (2010); Nettles DL, et al, Tissue engineering Part A 14, 1133-1140 (2008); McHale MK, et al, Tissue Eng 11, 1768-1779 (2005)). They recapitulate the extensibility of natural elastin using a pentapeptide repeat, VPGXG, where X is any amino acid besides proline (MacEwan SR, et al, Biopolymers 94, 60-77 (2010); Baldock C, et al, Proc Natl Acad Sci 108, 4322-4327 (2011)). The unique properties of ELPs include their reversible thermoresponsive nature (Meyer DE, et al, Nat Biotech 17, 1112-1115 (1999)), modular design (Raphel J, et al, J Mater Chem 22, 19429-19437 (2012); Betre H, et al, Biomacromolecules 3, 910-916 (2002)), and mechanical properties (McHale MK, et al, Tissue Eng 11, 1768-1779 (2005)), making them suitable candidates for various applications such as thermoresponsive drug carriers, thermal purification components, self-assembly building blocks, and hydrogels for tissue regeneration (Nettles DL, et al, Adv Drug Delivery Rev 62, 1479-1485 (2010); McHale MK, et al, Tissue Eng 11, 1768-1779 (2005); Xia XX, et al, Biomacromolecules 12, 3844-3850 (2011)). However, many ELP -based biomaterials have lower elasticity and mechanical properties compared to synthetic polymeric scaffolds (Trabbic-Carlson K, et al, Biomacromolecules 4, 572-580 (2003)). They also require chemical modification and long crosslinking time to form three dimensional (3D) scaffolds, limiting their capability for 3D cell encapsulation (Raphel J, et al, J Mater Chem 22, 19429-19437 (2012)).

[0006] To alter the mechanical properties of ELPs, various crosslinking approaches such as physical (through temperature changes), chemical, and enzymatic crosslinking have been applied (Chou C, et al, Chemical Science 2, 480-483 (2011)). Above an ELP's lower critical solution temperature (LCST), ELP agglomeration occurs, forming coacervates (viscous liquids), which can be used as a cell carrier or injectable delivery system (MacEwan SR, et al, Biopolymers 94, 60-77 (2010)). However, these viscous liquids are not capable of providing the mechanics necessary for many tissue engineering applications. For the formation of more stable gels,

chemical crosslinking of ELPs has been performed. ELPs can be crosslinked through chemical functionalization of the protein sequence (e.g. addition of vinyl groups) using N-hydroxysuccinimide (NHS) reactions, glutaraldehyde (Ifkovits JL, et al, Tissue Eng 10, 2369-2385 (2007); Wissink MJB, et al, Biomaterials 22, 151-163 (2001)), or through reacting amines or carboxyl groups in the biopolymer (Nettles DL, et al., Adv Drug Delivery Rev 62, 1479-1485 (2010); Nettles DL, et al, Tissue engineering Part A 14, 1133-1140 (2008); Raphel J, et al, J Mater Chem 22, 19429-19437 (2012); Chou C, et al, Chemical Science 2, 480-483 (2011)). Chemical modifications can introduce well-defined concentrations of crosslinkers per molecule, providing control over both the location and amount of added crosslinkable groups. However, long reaction times and generation of toxic byproducts in chemical crosslinking methods may limit the applications of resulting ELP biomaterials in situations where rapid gelation in biological conditions is required. For example, NHS-based coupling reactions commonly require minutes to hours to react generating toxic byproducts (Huang L, et al, Macromolecules 33, 2989-2997 (2000); Zhang K, et al, J Am Chem Soc 127, 10136-10137 (2005)), which is not ideal for clinical applications. Enzymatic crosslinking of proteins also suffers from similar restrictions (McHale MK, et al, Tissue Eng 11, 1768-1779 (2005)).

[0007] To address these limitations, photocrosslinkable ELP -based scaffolds have been developed. For example, non-canonical amino acids have been recombinantly incorporated to provide photocrosslinkable sites within the protein but the protein yield using this technology was very low, limiting the scalability and widespread applications of this approach (Nagapudi K, et al, Macromolecules 35, 1730-1737 (2002)). Photocrosslinking of ELPs has also been performed by functionalizing lysine groups with acrylate moieties (K. Nagapudi, W. T.

Brinkman, J. E. Leisen, L. Huang, R. A. McMillan, R. P. Apkarian, V. P. Conticello, E. L.

Chaikof, Macromolecules 2002, 35, 1730) or NHS ester-diazirine crosslinker (Raphel J, et al, J Mater Chem 22, 19429-19437 (2012)) to produce stable biomaterials. These approaches have been utilized to design dried films or fibers with high modulus (40-60 MPa) and low fracture strain (2%) but rarely for the formation of bulk hydrogels, which are necessary for any 3D applications, including cell encapsulation (Bertassoni LE, et al, Lab on a Chip 14, 2202-2211 (2014)), micropatterning (Annabi N, et al, Biomaterials 34, 5496-5505 (2013)), or molding (Nettles DL, et al., Adv Drug Delivery Rev 62, 1479-1485 (2010); Foo CTWP, et al, Proc Natl AcadSci 106, 22067-22072 (2009); Tang S, et al, Macromolecules 47, 791-799 (2014)) by soft lithography. The functionalized ELP polymers also required long UV exposure times (1-2 h) to be crosslinked (Raphel J, et al, J Mater Chem 22, 19429-19437 (2012); Nichol JW, et al, Biomaterials 31, 5536-5544 (2010)), limiting their capability for 3D cell encapsulation and fast polymerizable materials for surgical application or injectable fillers.

SUMMARY

[0008] The technology described herein relates to engineered polypeptides that can crosslink to form biocompatible hydrogels with tunable and desirable mechanical properties. The polypeptides can further comprise a pair of cysteine residues to allow disulfide bond formation, leading to the formation of an elastic hydrogel. The physical properties of the resulting hydrogel such as mechanical properties and swelling behavior can be tuned, e.g., by controlling the polypeptide concentrations.

[0009] In one aspect, the technology described herein relates to a polypeptide comprising an amino acid sequence of {[VPGVG]4IPGVG}n, wherein n is an integer greater than 1.

[0010] In one aspect, the technology described herein relates to a composition comprising a polypeptide described herein and a photoinitiator.

[0011] In one aspect, the technology described herein relates to a kit comprising a polypeptide described herein and a photoinitiator.

[0012] In one aspect, the technology described herein relates to a hydrogel comprising a polypeptide comprising an amino acid sequence of {[VPGVG]4IPGVG}n, wherein n is an integer greater than 1.

[0013] In some embodiments of any one of the above aspects, n is in the range of 10-28.

[0014] In some embodiments of any one of the above aspects, n is in the range of 10-14.

[0015] In some embodiments of any one of the above aspects, n is 14.

[0016] In some embodiments of any one of the above aspects, the polypeptide further comprises a first cysteine-containing peptide linked to a first side of the amino acid sequence of

{[VPGVG]4IPGVG}n.

[0017] In some embodiments of any one of the above aspects, the polypeptide further comprises a second cysteine-containing peptide linked to a second side of the amino acid sequence of {[VPGVG]4IPGVG}n.

[0018] In some embodiments of any one of the above aspects, the first cysteine-containing peptide comprises an amino acid sequence of KCTS.

[0019] In some embodiments of any one of the above aspects, the second cysteine-containing peptide comprises an amino acid sequence of KCTS.

[0020] In some embodiments of any one of the above aspects, the polypeptide further comprises an amino acid sequence of RGD.

[0021] In some embodiments of any one of the above aspects, the photoinitiator is selected from the group consisting of 1 -[4-(2 -Hydroxy ethoxy)-phenyl]-2-hydroxy-2-methyl-l -propane- 1-one, 1- hydroxy cyclohexyl phenyl ketone, 2-benzyl-2,N,N-dimethylamino-l-(4-morpholinophenyl)-l-butanone, 2-hydroxy-2-methyl-l -phenyl propane- 1 -one, 2,2-dimethoxy-2-phenylacetophenone, and Eosin Y.

[0022] In some embodiments of the hydrogels described herein, the polypeptide is present at a concentration between 5% and 30% (w/v). In some embodiments of the hydrogels described herein, the polypeptide is present at a concentration between 10% and 30% (w/v). In some embodiments of the hydrogels described herein, the polypeptide is present at a concentration between 10% and 20% (w/v).

[0023] In some embodiments of the hydrogels described herein, the hydrogel has

extensibility up to 500%. In some embodiments of the hydrogels described herein, the hydrogel has extensibility up to 450%. In some embodiments of the hydrogels described herein, the hydrogel has extensibility up to 400%.

[0024] In some embodiments of the hydrogels described herein, the hydrogel has an elastic modulus in the range of 0.5-10kPa. In some embodiments of the hydrogels described herein, the hydrogel has an elastic modulus in the range of l-5kPa. In some embodiments of the hydrogels described herein, the hydrogel has an elastic modulus in the range of l-2.5kPa.

[0025] In some embodiments of the hydrogels described herein, the hydrogel has a tensile strength in the range of 4 to 20kPa. In some embodiments of the hydrogels described herein, the hydrogel has a tensile strength in the range of 5 to 15kPa. In some embodiments of the hydrogels described herein, the hydrogel has a tensile strength in the range of 6 to 12kPa.

[0026] In some embodiments of the hydrogels described herein, the hydrogel has a compressive modulus of 1 to 20kPa. In some embodiments of the hydrogels described herein, the hydrogel has a compressive modulus of 2 to 18kPa. In some embodiments of the hydrogels described herein, the hydrogel has a compressive modulus of 3 to 15kPa.

[0027] In some embodiments of the hydrogels described herein, the hydrogel further comprises a hemostatic agent selected from the group consisting of silica nanoparticles, blood coagulation factors, prothrombin, thrombin, fibrinogen, fibrin, gelatin, collagen, polysaccharide, and cellulose.

[0028] In some embodiments of the hydrogels described herein, the hydrogel further comprises an antibacterial agent selected from the group consisting of silver nanoparticles, copper oxide nanoparticles, nanoparticle-carried antibiotic drugs, penicillins, cephalosporins, penems, carbapenems, monobactams, aminoglycosides, sulfonamides, macrolides, tetracyclins, lincosides, quinolones, chloramphenicol, vancomycin, metronidazole, rifampin, isoniazid, spectinomycin, trimethoprim, and sulfamethoxazole.

[0029] In some embodiments of the hydrogels described herein, the hydrogel further comprises one or more biological cells.

[0030] In some embodiments of the hydrogels described herein, the hydrogel is

biocompatible.

[0031] In some embodiments of the hydrogels described herein, the hydrogel is produced by crosslinking the polypeptide in the presence of a photoinitiator under light irradiation (e.g., ultraviolet or visible light).

[0032] A variety of methods can be applied to polymerize the polypeptides described herein. These methods include, but are not limited to, photoinitiation, Michael addition, and other thiol reactions.

[0033] The polypeptides and hydrogels described herein can have a variety of biomedical applications. One aspect of the technology described herein also relates to a tissue scaffold comprising the hydrogel described herein and one or more biological cells. The tissue scaffold can be used to promote tissue ingrowth or deliver growth factors.

[0034] The hydrogels described herein can also be used to treat bleeding, wherein the hydrogel comprising a hemostatic agent. Other uses include treatment of an injury in a soft and elastic tissue such as a blood vessel, skin, lung, cartilage, nucleus pulposus, bladder, and a cardiac tissue.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0035] The patent or application file contains at least one drawing executed in color. Copies of this patent or patent application publication with color drawings will be provided by the Office upon request and payment of the necessary fee.

[0036] FIGs. 1A-1D show design and photocrosslinking of elastin-like polypeptides (ELPs). (FIG. 1 A) Sequences of expressed ELPs to test photocrosslinking. (FIG. IB) Proposed photocrosslinking mechanism for cysteine-containing ELP (KCTS-E31-KCTS (i.e., KCTS-{[VPGVG]4lPGVG} i4-KCTS)), involving chain extension via disulfide bond formation (red bonds) and interchain crosslinking among ELP residues (green bonds). (FIG. 1C) Representative images of 10 % (w/v) aqueous ELP solutions after UV exposure in the presence of a

photoinitiator and after incubation with a reducing agent (tris (2-carboxy ethyl) phosphine hydrochloride). KCTS-E31-KCTS forms a gel after photocrosslinking while E22, an ELP lacking cysteine, remains a liquid. After reduction, KCTS-E31-KCTS is much smaller in size suggesting a mass loss after reduction. (FIG. ID) Protein electrophoresis gels of reduced hydrogels show bands (circled on gel), at double and triple the protein molecular weight when compared to non-reduced gels, indicating high molar mass proteins and some bonds other than disulfide bonds are formed during photocrosslinking.

[0037] FIGs. 2A-2F show pore characteristics and swelling properties of photocrosslinked ELP hydrogels. Representative SEM images from the cross sections of ELP hydrogels produced by using (FIG. 2A) 10, (FIG. 2B) 15 and (FIG. 2C) 20% (w/v) ELP concentrations (scale bars: 10 μπι). The structure of these hydrogels became more compact by increasing ELP

concentration. (FIG. 2D) Effect of protein concentrations on the average apparent pore sizes of ELP gels, derived from SEM images (n= 90). The apparent pore size decreases by increasing the protein concentration. (FIG. 2E) Time course of the swelling ratio depending on different ELP concentrations at 37 °C. (FIG. 2F) Swelling ratio after 24 hours depending on temperature and ELP concentrations (*p < 0.05, **p < 0.01, ***p < 0.001, ****p < 0.0001).

[0038] FIGs. 3A-3G show mechanical properties of ELP hydrogels. (FIG. 3 A) Images of a 10% (w/v) ELP hydrogel during stretching. The engineered ELP hydrogel stretched more than 4 times of its initial length before break. (FIG. 3B) Representative tensile stress-strain curves and (FIG. 3C) elastic modulus of hydrogels produced with different ELP concentrations. (FIG. 3D) Images of a 10% (w/v) ELP hydrogel during compression test. (FIG. 3E) Representative

compressive cyclic loading and unloading curves for ELP hydrogels with different ELP concentrations. (FIG. 3F) Compressive modulus of hydrogels produced with different ELP concentrations. (FIG. 3G) Energy loss calculated from the area between the loading and unloading curves depending on the ELP concentrations (*p < 0.05, **p < 0.01, ****p < 0.0001).

[0039] FIGs. 4A-4D show in vitro cell seeding on ELP hydrogels. (FIGs. 4A-4B) Calcein-AM (green)/ethidium homodimer (red) LIVE/DEAD assay on ELP hydrogels seeding with MSCs (FIG. 4A) or HUVECs (FIG. 4B) at day 7 of culture (scale bar = 200 μιη). (FIG. 4C) Viability results 1, 4 and 7 after cell seeding calculated based on live/dead images. (FIG. 4D) Quantification of metabolic activity by PrestoBlue™ at day 1, 4 and 7 after cell seeding (*p < 0.05, ****p < 0.0001).

[0040] FIGs. 5A-5D show evaluation of degradation and biocompatibility of ELP hydrogels in vivo. ELP hydrogels were implanted into the dorsal subcutaneous space of rats. (FIG. 5A) Macroscopic view on explanted ELP hydrogels 0, 7, 14, 28 and 56 days after implantation (scale bars = 5 mm). (FIG. 5B) The in vivo degradation profile of ELP hydrogels (n=5) over time based on dry weight measurements shows a significant gain in weight at day 56. (FIG. 5C)

Hematoxylin/eosin staining of subcutaneously implanted ELP hydrogels at postoperative days 7 (i), 14 (ii), 28 (iii) and 56 (iv) revealed progressive growth of host tissue onto the implants, shown by the arrows (scale bars = 200 μπι). (FIG. 5D) Immunostaining of subcutaneously implanted ELP hydrogels at days 7 and 28 resulted in no local lymphocyte infiltration (CD3), and relevant macrophage detection (CD68) only at day 7 having disappeared by day 28 (scale bars = 100 μπι). Green color in (FIG. 5D) represents the autofluore scent ELP, red color the immune cells, and blue color all cell nuclei (DAPI) (***p < 0.001).

[0041] FIGs. 6A-6E show application of ELP hydrogels combined with silica nanoparticle as hemostats. (FIG. 6A) A schematic of combining silica nanoparticle (NP; Ludox®) solutions with the photocrosslinked ELPs. (FIG. 6B) A 96 well plate clotting time assay shows decreased clotting times when NP solutions are combined with the photocrosslinked ELPs. (FIG. 6C) Clotting times measured from the 96 well plate clotting time assay. (FIG. 6D) A schematic of placement of NP-coated ELP hydrogels on an otherwise lethal liver wound. (FIG. 6E) In vivo blood loss after application of ELP versus ELP with NP coating (**p < 0.01, ***p < 0.001).

[0042] FIG. 7A shows protein gel of KCTS-E31-KCTS and E22 proteins after purification.

[0043] FIG. 7B is UV-Vis plot showing the transition temperature of a 1% (w/v) solution of ELP.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0044] The technology described herein is based, at least in part, on the discovery of certain engineered elastin-like polypeptides (ELPs) that can crosslink to form biocompatible hydrogels with desirable mechanical properties. Specifically, the ELPs comprise a plurality of repeats of [VPGVG]mIPGVG, where m is an integer greater than 1. In some embodiments, the ELPs can undergo rapid polymerization, e.g., no more than a few minutes. The mechanical properties of the hydrogels can be tuned by changing the number of the repeats of [VPGVG]mIPGVG, the concentration of the polypeptide, the degree of crosslinking, concentration of the photoinitiator, among others. In particular, the hydrogels described herein exhibit high extensibility, for example, up to 450% for some hydrogels tested. The extensibility can be at least 2-3 fold higher than that of other hydrogels based on ELPs, such as those described in E. R. Welsh and D. A. Tirrell, Biomacromolecules, vol. 1, pp. 23-30, 2000, and K. Di Zio and D. A. Tirrell,

Macromolecules, vol. 36, pp. 1553-1558, 2003.

[0045] The polypeptides and hydrogels described herein can be used in a variety of biomedical applications. In some embodiments, the polypeptides and hydrogels described herein can be used in tissue engineering. For example, the hydrogels can be utilized as tissue scaffolds. The high extensibility makes these hydrogels especially useful as implants in soft and elastic tissues such as blood vessels, skin, lung, cartilage, nucleus pulposus, bladder, muscle tissues and cardiac tissues. The hydrogels described herein can also be utilized as sealants to manage or stop uncontrolled bleeding. Due to the ability of the polypeptides to rapidly polymerize, solutions comprising the polypeptides can be injected in a defect tissue site and then be polymerized locally to function as a filler. The polypeptides and hydrogels described herein can also be used as tissue adhesives, implant coatings, growth factor delivery vehicles, and fillers for cosmetic applications.

[0046] In one aspect, the technology described herein relates to a polypeptide comprising an amino acid sequence of {[VPGVG]mIPGVG}n, where m and n are integers greater than 1. In some embodiments, m is in the range of 1 to 10. In some embodiments, m is in the range of 2 to 8. In some embodiments, m is in the range of 3 to 6. In some embodiments, m is 3. In some embodiments, m is 4. In some embodiments, m is 5.

[0047] In some embodiments, n is in the range of 2 to 50. In some embodiments, n is in the range of 2 to 30. In some embodiments, n is in the range of 2 to 20. In some embodiments, n is in the range of 5 to 50. In some embodiments, n is in the range of 5 to 30. In some embodiments, n is in the range of 5 to 20. In some embodiments, n is in the range of 10 to 50. In some embodiments, n is in the range of 10 to 30. In some embodiments, n is in the range of 10 to 20. In some embodiments, n is in the range of 10 to 14. In some embodiments, n is about 14.

Without wishing to be bound by theory, as the molar mass of the polypeptide increases, the transition temperature decreases until it plateaus and the modulus increases.

[0048] In some embodiments, m is 4 and n is 14.

[0049] In some embodiments, the polypeptide further comprises a first cysteine-containing peptide linked to a first side of the amino acid sequence of {[VPGVG]mIPGVG}n. Without wishing to be bound by theory, the first cysteine-containing peptide can promote crosslinking of the polypeptides. The first cysteine-containing peptide can have no more than 10 amino acids, e.g., 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, or 2 amino acids. In some embodiments, the first cysteine-containing peptide comprises an amino acid sequence of KCTS. KCTS can be linked to the first side of the amino acid sequence of {[VPGVG]mIPGVG}n through either the amino acid K or S.

[0050] In some embodiments, the polypeptide further comprises a second cysteine-containing peptide linked to a second side of the amino acid sequence of {[VPGVG]mIPGVG}n. The second cysteine-containing peptide can have no more than 20 amino acids, e.g., 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, or 2 amino acids. In some embodiments, the second cysteine-containing peptide comprises an amino acid sequence of KCTS. KCTS can be linked to the second side of the amino acid sequence of {[VPGVG]mIPGVG}n through either the amino acid K or S.

[0051] In some embodiments, the polypeptide comprises an amino acid sequence of KCTS{[VPGVG]4IPGVG} i4KCTS. In some embodiments, the polypeptide comprises an amino acid sequence of STCK{[VPGVG]4IPGVG} i4KCTS.

[0052] In some embodiments, the polypeptide can further comprise a cell-recognition peptide to promote cell adhesion and/or spreading. In some embodiments, the cell adhesion peptide has a length of 40 amino acids or less, 35 amino acids or less, 30 amino acids or less, 25 amino acids or less, or 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, or 5 amino acids or less. Cell-recognition peptides are known in the art include, but are not limited to, RGD, CGGNGEPRGDTYRAY, KGD, amyloid peptide, PECAM, NGR, KQAGDV, LDV, IDS, RLD/KRLDGS, L/IET, YYGDLR, FYFDLR, CRRETAWAC, ACDCRGDCFCG, and

YGYYGDALR. More examples of cell-recognition peptides can be found, e.g., in E. Ruoslahti Annu. Rev. Cell Dev. Biol. 1996, 12:697-715. The polypeptides comprising cell-recognition peptides are useful to form hydrogels as tissue scaffolds.

[0053] The polypeptides disclosed herein can be produced by any suitable methods such as recombinant genetic engineering, chemical synthesis, and cell-free translation.

[0054] For example, the polypeptides can be produced using conventional recombinant nucleic acid technology. Generally, the nucleic acid molecule (DNA or RNA, preferably DNA) is incorporated into a vector-expression system of choice to prepare a nucleic acid construct using standard cloning procedures known in the art, such as those described by Joseph Sambrook & David W. Russell, Molecular Cloning: a Laboratory Manual (3d ed. 2001), Cold Spring Harbor Press; Ausubel et al. (eds.), 1994, Current Protocols in Molecular Biology, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.; Innis et al. (eds.), 1990 PCR Protocols, Academic Press. The nucleic acid molecule may be inserted into a vector in the sense (i.e., 5' to 3') direction, such that the open reading frame is properly oriented for the expression of the encoded protein under the control of a promoter of choice. Single or multiple nucleic acids may be ligated into an appropriate vector in this way, under the control of a suitable promoter, to prepare a nucleic acid construct for expressing a polypeptide of the present invention. Alternatively, the nucleic acid molecule may be inserted into the expression system or vector in the antisense (i.e., 3' to 5') orientation. The vector should also contain the necessary elements for the transcription and translation of the inserted polypeptide-coding sequences.

[0055] Once the isolated nucleic acid molecule encoding the polypeptide has been cloned into an expression system, it is ready to be incorporated into a host cell. Recombinant molecules can be introduced into cells using any approach suitable for the selected host cells, including, but not limited to, transduction, conjugation, lipofection, protoplast fusion, mobilization, particle bombardment, electroporation, polyethylene glycol-mediated DNA uptake, or fusion of protoplasts with other entities (e.g., minicells, cells, lysosomes, or other fusible lipid-surfaced bodies that contain the chimeric gene). Suitable hosts include, but are not limited to bacteria, virus, yeast, fungi, mammalian cells, insect cells, plant cells, and the like.

[0056] The host cell is then cultured in a suitable medium, and under conditions suitable for expression of the polypeptide of interest. After cultivation, the cell is disrupted by physical or chemical means, and the polypeptide purified from the resultant crude extract. Alternatively, cultivation may include conditions in which the polypeptide is secreted into the growth medium of the recombinant host cell, and the polypeptide is isolated from the growth medium.

Alternative methods may be used as suitable.

[0057] The polypeptides can also be synthesized in a cell-free protein synthesis system. The above expression vector DNA can be transcribed in vitro, and the resultant mRNA is added to a cell-free translation system to synthesize the protein. Specifically, the cell-free translation system can be prepared from an extract of a eukaryotic cell or a bacterial cell, or a portion thereof. Such cell-free translation systems include, but are not limited to those prepared from rabbit reticulocytes, wheat germ, a d E. coli S30 extract.

[0058] Alternatively, the polypeptides can be obtained directly by chemical synthesis, e.g., using a commercial peptide synthesizer according to the vendor's instructions. Such a synthesis is carried out using known amino acid sequences for the polypeptides of the present invention. These polypeptides can then be separated by conventional procedures (e.g., chromatography, SDS-PAGE). Methods and materials for chemical synthesis of polypeptides are well known in the art. See, e.g., Merrifield, 1963, "Solid Phase Synthesis," J. Am. Chem. Soc. 83 :2149 -2154.

[0059] The polypeptides described herein can also be produced by a commercial producer such as GeneScript, Life Technologies, and Neo Scientific.

[0060] Once produced, the polypeptides of the present invention may be purified by methods that will be apparent to one of skill in the art including, but not limited to, liquid chromatography such as normal or reversed phase, HPLC, FPLC and the like; affinity chromatography (such as with inorganic ligands or monoclonal antibodies); ion exchange chromatography, size exclusion chromatography; immobilized metal chelate chromatography; and gel electrophoresis.

Polypeptide purification can be enhanced by adding a group to the carboxyl or amino terminus to facilitate purification. Examples of groups that can be used to facilitate purification include polypeptides providing affinity tags. Examples of affinity tags include a six-histidine-tag, trpE, glutathione S-transferase, and maltose-binding protein. To maintain the properties of the

polypeptide composition, it can be advantageous to provide cleavage sites that permit removal of affinity tags, particularly if larger tags such as glutathione S-transferase or maltose-binding protein are used.

[0061] A variety of methods can be applied to polymerize the polypeptides described herein. These methods include, but are not limited to, photoinitiation, Michael addition, and other thiol reactions.

[0062] In some embodiments, to initiate polymerization of the polypeptides described herein, light can be applied to the polypeptides in the presence of a photoinitiator for a period of seconds to several minutes or hours. For example, the light can be applied for about 10 seconds to about 5 minutes. In certain embodiments, light is applied for about 1 minute to about 5 minutes. The light source can allow variation of the wavelength of light and/ or the intensity of the light.

[0063] In some embodiments, the wavelength of the light irradiating the polypeptides is ultraviolet (i.e., in the range of 400 nm to 10 nm). A UV photoinitiator is a reactive material that is configured to produce a polymerizing radical when exposed to a specific UV wavelength of light. The free radical is then configured to polymerize the polypeptides. Exemplary UV photoinitiators include, but are not limited to, alpha-hydroxy ketones, alpha-amino ketones, bis-acylphosphine oxide (BAPO) initiators, benzophenone, acrylated amine synergists, and alpha-hydroxy propanones. In one embodiment, the UV photoinitiator is 1 -[4-(2 -Hydroxy ethoxy)-phenyl]-2-hydroxy-2-methyl-l-propane-l-one. The UV photoinitiator can be commercially manufactured by Ciba® under the trade name IRGACURE® or DAROCUR®, specifically "IRGACURE" 184 (1 -hydroxy cyclohexyl phenyl ketone), 907 (2-methyl-l-[4-(methylthio)phenyl]-2-morpholino propan-l-one), 369 (2-benzyl-2-N,N-dimethylamino-l-(4-morpholinophenyl)-l-butanone), 500 (the combination of 1 -hydroxy cyclohexyl phenyl ketone and benzophenone), 651 (2,2-dimethoxy-2-phenyl acetophenone), 1700 (the combination of bis(2,6-dimethoxybenzoyl-2,4,4-trimethyl pentyl) phosphine oxide and 2-hydroxy-2-methyl-l-phenyl-propan-l-one), and "DAROCUR" 1173 (2-hydroxy-2-methyl-l -phenyl- 1 -propane) and 4265 (the combination of 2,4,6-trimethylbenzoyldiphenyl-phosphine oxide and 2-hydroxy-2-methyl-l-phenyl-propan-l-one). In addition, alkyl pyruvates, such as methyl, ethyl, propyl, and butyl pyruvates, and aryl pyruvates, such as phenyl, benzyl, and appropriately substituted derivatives thereof may be used as well. Combinations of these materials may also be employed herein.

[0064] In some embodiments, the wavelength of the light irradiating the polypeptides is visible (i.e., in the range of 401 nm to 700 nm). Exemplary photoinitiators that work in the visible range include, but are not limited to, Eosin Y, bis(2,4,6-trimethyl benzoyl) phenyl phosphine oxide, bi s( 5-2,4-cy clopentadien- 1 -yl)-bi s- [2, 6-difluoro-3 -(1 H-pyrrol- 1 -yl)phenyl] titanium, quinones such as camphorquinone and fluorones.

[0065] The photoinitiator may be used in an amount of from about 0.5 to about 10% by weight of the total composition, such as about 2 to about 6% by weight.

[0066] Because cysteine comprises a thiol group, in some embodiments, Michael addition can be used to polymerize the polypeptides described herein. In these embodiments, a Michael acceptor can be used to crosslink the polypeptides. In some embodiments, a 4-arm polyethylene glycol (PEG) can be used in a Michael addition reaction (e.g., Michael-type addition reaction between vinyl sulfone groups of 4-arm PEG and cysteine residues). In some embodiments, other thiol reactions can be used. For example, thiol -reactive homobifunctional crosslinkers (e.g., bis-((N-iodoacetyl)piperazinyl)sulfonerhodamine) can be used to crosslink the polypeptides.

[0067] A hydrogel can be formed after the polymerization of the polypeptides described herein. In some embodiments, the polypeptide is present at a concentration between 5% and 50% (w/v), e.g., between 5% and 40% (w/v), between 5% and 35% (w/v), between 5% and 30% (w/v), between 5% and 20% (w/v), between 10% and 30% (w/v), between 10% and 25% (w/v), or between 10% and 20% (w/v).

[0068] The degree of cross-linking in the hydrogel can also affect its properties.

Accordingly, the degree of cross-linking can range from 0% (i.e., no cross-linking) to 100% (i.e. all groups available for cross-linking are used). In some embodiments, the degree of cross-linking is in the range of from about 5% to about 95%, from about 10% to about 90%, from about 15 % to about 80%, from about 20% to about 75%, or from about 25% to about 50%. In some embodiments, the degree of cross-linking is 5% or less. In some embodiments, the degree of cross-linking can range from about 0.1% to about 20%. In some embodiments, the degree of cross-linking can range from about 1% to about 5%.

[0069] The hydrogels described herein exhibit tunable physical properties including pore size, swelling ratio, and mechanical properties. The physical properties can be tuned by changing the concentration of the polypeptide and/or the degree of cross-linking.

[0070] The mechanical properties of the hydrogels can be characterized by any one or more of properties including, e.g., extensibility, strain at fracture, elastic modulus, shear modulus, tensile strength, compressive modulus, energy loss, and stiffness. Energy loss is proportional to hysteresis, this mean that material with higher elasticity have lower energy loss, it is calculated based on the area between loading and unloading curve after performing cyclic test using the below formula: energy loss = (area under loading curve - area under unloading curve) / (area under loading curve) x 100%.

[0071] While optimal properties will vary for any given application of the hydrogels described herein, the elastic hydrogels will generally have an extensibility of at least 100%. In some embodiments, the extensibility of the hydrogels is up to 600%. In some embodiments, the extensibility of the hydrogels is up to 550%). In some embodiments, the extensibility of the hydrogels is up to 500%). In some embodiments, the extensibility of the hydrogels is up to 450%). As used herein, the terms "extensibility" and "strain at failure" are used interchangeably. The extensibility of the hydrogels can be tuned, for example, by changing the photoinitiator concentration and/or ELP concentration. Generally stiffer hydrogel has less extensibility.

Lowering the concentration of ELP can provide softer but more elastic gel.

[0072] In some embodiments, the elastic modulus of the hydrogels is in the range of 0.5-15kPa. In some embodiments, the elastic modulus of the hydrogels is in the range of 0.5-10kPa. In some embodiments, the elastic modulus of the hydrogels is in the range of 0.5-8kPa. In some embodiments, the elastic modulus of the hydrogels is in the range of 0.5-6kPa. In some embodiments, the elastic modulus of the hydrogels is in the range of 0.5-4kPa. In some embodiments, the elastic modulus of the hydrogels is in the range of 0.5-3kPa. In some embodiments, the elastic modulus of the hydrogels is in the range of 0.5-2.5kPa. In some embodiments, the elastic modulus of the hydrogels is in the range of l-3kPa. In some

embodiments, the elastic modulus of the hydrogels is in the range of l-2.5kPa. At least in some concentration range (e.g., 5-30% w/v), the elastic modulus can be increased by increasing the concentration of the polypeptide in the hydrogel.

[0073] In some embodiments, the tensile strength of the hydrogel is in the range of 4-20kPa. In some embodiments, the tensile strength of the hydrogel is in the range of 4-15kPa. In some embodiments, the tensile strength of the hydrogel is in the range of 5-15kPa. In some

embodiments, the tensile strength of the hydrogel is in the range of 6-12kPa. At least in some concentration range (e.g., 5-30% w/v), the tensile strength can be increased by increasing the concentration of the polypeptide in the hydrogel.

[0074] In some embodiments, the compressive modulus of the hydrogel is in the range of 1-20kPa. In some embodiments, the compressive modulus of the hydrogel is in the range of 2-18kPa. In some embodiments, the compressive modulus of the hydrogel is in the range of 3-15kPa. In some embodiments, the compressive modulus of the hydrogel is in the range of 3-12kPa. At least in some concentration range (e.g., 5-30% w/v), the compressive modulus can be increased by increasing the concentration of the polypeptide in the hydrogel.

[0075] In some embodiments, the hydrogels described herein comprise a plurality of pores. In some embodiments, the hydrogel has a porosity of at least about 10%, at least about 20%, at least about 30%, at least about 40%, at least about 50%, at least about 60%, at least about 70%, at least about 80%, at least about 90%, or higher. The term "porosity" as used herein is a measure of void spaces in a material, e.g., a matrix such as a hydrogel described herein, and is a fraction of volume of voids over the total volume, as a percentage between 0 and 100% (or between 0 and 1). Determination of porosity is well known to a skilled artisan, e.g., using standardized techniques, such as mercury porosimetry and gas adsorption, e.g., nitrogen adsorption.

[0076] The porous hydrogel can have a wide range of pore size. As used herein, the term "pore size" refers to a diameter or an effective diameter of the cross-sections of the pores. The term "pore size" can also refer to an average diameter or an average effective diameter of the cross-sections of the pores, based on the measurements of a plurality of pores. The effective diameter of a cross-section that is not circular equals the diameter of a circular cross-section that has the same cross-sectional area as that of the non-circular cross-section. In some embodiments, the porous hydrogel has an average pore size in the range of 100 nm to 100 μηι, 100 nm to 50 μηι, 100 nm to 20 μηι, 100 nm to 10 μηι, or 500 nm to 5 μηι.

[0077] In some embodiments, the hydrogels described herein can absorb water and increase in volume. This swelling property can be characterized by the swelling ratio. The swelling ratio can be calculated via the following equation: Sr = (Ww— Wd) /Wd , where Sr is the equilibrium swelling ratio, Ww is the swollen weight of the hydrogel after equilibrium in PBS and Wd is the dry weight of the hydrogel dried by lyophilization. The swelling ratio for the same material can be different at different temperatures, so the swelling ratio is typically specified at a specific temperature. In some embodiments, the hydrogel can have a swelling ratio at 37 °C of at least 50%, at least 60%, at least 70%, at least 80%, at least 90%, at least 100%, at least 150%, or at

least 200%. In some embodiments, the hydrogel can have a swelling ratio at 37 °C of no more than 500%.

[0078] In some embodiments, the hydrogels described herein are minimally degraded after a period of time (e.g., at least 7 days, at least 14 days, at least 28 days, or at least 56 days) when implanted in a subject. Stated another way, the hydrogels described herein show slow

degradation rate. Generally, hydrogels with lower ELP concentration have higher degradation rates.

[0079] In some embodiments, the hydrogels described herein can comprise a bioactive agent. Without limitations, a bioactive agent can be selected from small organic or inorganic molecules; saccharides; oligosaccharides; polysaccharides; biological macromolecules, e.g., peptides, proteins, and peptide analogs and derivatives, polyclonal antibodies and antigen binding fragments thereof, monoclonal antibodies and antigen binding fragments thereof;

peptidomimetics; nucleic acids and nucleic acid analogs and derivatives (including but not limited to siRNAs, shRNAs, antisense oligonucleotides, ribozymes, and aptamers); an extract made from biological materials such as bacteria, plants, fungi, or animal cells; animal tissues; naturally occurring or synthetic compositions; and any combinations thereof.

[0080] Exemplary bioactive agents include, but are not limited to, vitamins, anti-cancer substances, antibiotics, immunosuppressants, anti-viral substances, enzyme inhibitors, opioids, hypnotics, lubricants, tranquilizers, anti-convulsants, muscle relaxants, anti-spasmodics and muscle contractants, anti-glaucoma compounds, modulators of cell-extracellular matrix interactions including cell growth inhibitors and anti-adhesion molecules, vasodilating agents, analgesics, anti-pyretics, steroidal and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, anti-angiogenic factors, anti- secretory factors, anticoagulants and/or antithrombotic agents, local anesthetics, ophthalmics, prostaglandins, anti-depressants, anti -psychotic substances, anti-emetics, imaging agents. A more complete, although not exhaustive, listing of classes and specific drugs suitable for use in the present invention can be found in "Pharmaceutical Substances: Synthesis, Patents, Applications" by A. Kleeman and J. Engel, Thieme Medical Publishing, 1999; Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 13th Edition, Eds. T.R. Harrison et al. McGraw-Hill N.Y., NY; Physicians' Desk Reference, 50th Edition, 1997, Oradell New Jersey, Medical Economics Co.; Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 8th Edition, Goodman and Gilman, 1990; United States Pharmacopeia, The National Formulary, USP XII NF XVII, 1990; current edition of Goodman

and Oilman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics; and the current edition of "Merck Index: An Encyclopedia of Chemicals, Drugs, and Biologicals", S. Budavari et al. (Eds), CRC Press, contents of all of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties.

[0081] The bioactive agent can be dispersed homogeneously or heterogeneously within the hydrogel, or dispersed in a gradient. Bioactive agent can be present in the hydrogel in a range of amounts or concentrations. For example, in some embodiments, an bioactive agent can be present in the hydrogel at a concentration of about 0.001 wt% to about 50 wt%, about 0.005 wt% to about 40 wt%, about 0.01 wt% to about 30 wt%, about 0.05 wt % to about 20 wt%, about 0.1 wt% to about 10 wt %, or about 0.5 wt% to about 5 wt%.

[0082] A hydrogel comprising a bioactive agent can be produced by polymerizing the polypeptides described herein in the presence of the bioactive agent. Alternatively, a hydrogel comprising a bioactive agent can be produced by immersing a hydrogel in a solution comprising the bioactive agent.

[0083] In some embodiments, the bioactive agent is a hemostatic agent. Hemostatic agents are used in surgical, emergency, and combat situations to manage uncontrolled bleeding by one or more hemostatic mechanisms. Exemplary hemostatic mechanisms include, but are not limited to, release of clotting factors, absorption of fluid, and sealing. Examples of hemostatic agents include, but are not limited to, silica nanoparticles (e.g., Ludox® TM-50), blood coagulation factors, prothrombin, thrombin, fibrinogen, fibrin, gelatin, collagen, polysaccharide,

aminocaproic acid, tranexamic acid, aprotinin, desmopressin, ferric sulfate, fibrin sealant, and cellulose. The use of silica nanoparticles (e.g., Ludox® TM-50) as hemostatic agents can be found, e.g., in A. Meddahi-Pelle, et al., Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 53, 6369 (2014).

[0084] In some embodiments, the bioactive agent is an antibacterial agent. Examples of antibacterial agents include, but are not limited to, silver nanoparticles, copper oxide nanoparticles, nanoparticle-carried antibiotic drugs, penicillins, cephalosporins, penems, carbapenems, monobactams, aminoglycosides, sulfonamides, macrolides, tetracyclins, lincosides, quinolones, chloramphenicol, vancomycin, metronidazole, rifampin, isoniazid, spectinomycin, trimethoprim, and sulfamethoxazole.

[0085] In some embodiments, the hydrogel can comprise one or more cells.

[0086] The hydrogel can be used in a range of forms, shapes or sizes, such as a film, a sheet, a gel or hydrogel, a mesh, a mat, a non-woven mat, a fabric, a scaffold, a tube, a slab or block, a fiber, a particle, powder, a 3 -dimensional construct, an implant, a foam or a sponge, a needle, a high density material, a lyophilized material, and any combinations thereof. In some

embodiments, the hydrogel can be further processed into a variety of desired shapes. Examples of such processing methods include, but are not limited to, machining, turning (lathe), rolling, thread rolling, drilling, milling, sanding, punching, die cutting, blanking, broaching, and any combinations thereof.

[0087] In some embodiments, the polypeptide compositions and hydrogels described herein can be sterilized. Sterilization methods for biomaterials are well known in the art, including, but not limited to, gamma or ultraviolet radiation; alcohol sterilization (e.g., ethanol and methanol); and gas sterilization (e.g., ethylene oxide sterilization).

[0088] Depending on the particular application, the polypeptides described herein can be present in a range of concentrations in the hydrogel to achieve desired structural, mechanical and/or degradation properties.

[0089] The hydrogels described herein can be used as tissue scaffolds. The high extensibility makes the hydrogels particularly useful for treating soft tissue injuries. In some embodiments, the tissue scaffold is engineered to have similar mechanical properties as the soft tissue in which the scaffold is implanted. Soft tissues include, but are not limited to, blood vessels, skin, lung, cartilage, nucleus pulposus, bladder, muscle tissues, and cardiac tissues.

[0090] The hydrogels described herein can also be used as sealants to treat uncontrolled bleeding.

[0091] Other applications include, but are not limited to, injectable filler, tissue adhesive, implant coating, growth factor delivery, and filler for cosmetic applications. Exemplary growth factors include TGF-β, Wnt, EGF, VEGF, HGF, and FGF.

[0092] Additionally, the hydrogels described herein can be in the form of a substrate for flexible electronics. Electronic or photonic devices can be disposed on the hydrogel substrate for interfacing with a soft tissue.

[0093] It should be understood that this invention is not limited to the particular

methodology, protocols, and reagents, etc., described herein and as such may vary. The terminology used herein is for the purpose of describing particular embodiments only, and is not intended to limit the scope of the present invention, which is defined solely by the claims.

[0094] As used herein and in the claims, the singular forms include the plural reference and vice versa unless the context clearly indicates otherwise. Other than in the operating examples, or where otherwise indicated, all numbers expressing quantities of ingredients or reaction conditions used herein should be understood as modified in all instances by the term "about." [0095] Although any known methods, devices, and materials may be used in the practice or testing of the invention, the methods, devices, and materials in this regard are described herein.

Definitions

[0096] Unless stated otherwise, or implicit from context, the following terms and phrases include the meanings provided below. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, or apparent from context, the terms and phrases below do not exclude the meaning that the term or phrase has acquired in the art to which it pertains. The definitions are provided to aid in describing particular embodiments, and are not intended to limit the claimed invention, because the scope of the invention is limited only by the claims. Further, unless otherwise required by context, singular terms shall include pluralities and plural terms shall include the singular.

[0097] As used herein, the term "comprising" or "comprises" is used in reference to compositions, methods, and respective component(s) thereof, that are useful to an embodiment, yet open to the inclusion of unspecified elements, whether useful or not.

[0098] As used herein, the term "consisting essentially of refers to those elements required for a given embodiment. The term permits the presence of elements that do not materially affect the basic and novel or functional characteristic(s) of that embodiment of the invention.

[0099] As used herein, the terms "proteins" and "polypeptides" are used interchangeably to designate a series of amino acid residues connected to each other by peptide bonds between the alpha-amino and carboxy groups of adjacent residues. The terms "protein" and "polypeptide" refer to a polymer of amino acids, including modified amino acids (e.g., phosphorylated, glycated, glycosylated, etc.) and amino acid analogs, regardless of its size or function. "Protein" and "polypeptide" are often used in reference to relatively large polypeptides, whereas the term "peptide" is often used in reference to small polypeptides, but usage of these terms in the art overlaps. The terms "protein" and "polypeptide" are used interchangeably herein when referring to a gene product and fragments thereof. Thus, exemplary polypeptides or proteins include gene products, naturally occurring proteins, homologs, orthologs, paralogs, fragments and other equivalents, variants, fragments, and analogs of the foregoing.

[00100] As used herein, the term "hydrogel" refers to a three-dimensional polymeric structure that is insoluble or minimally soluble in water or some other liquid but which is capable of absorbing and retaining large quantities of water or some other liquid to form a stable, often soft and pliable, structure.

[00101] As used herein, the term "biodegradable" describes a material which can decompose partially or fully under physiological conditions into breakdown products. The material under physiological conditions can undergo reactions or interactions such as hydrolysis (decomposition via hydrolytic cleavage), enzymatic catalysis (enzymatic degradation), and mechanical interactions. As used herein, the term "biodegradable" also encompasses the term

"bioresorbable," which describes a substance that decomposes under physiological conditions, breaking down to products that undergo bioresorption into the host-organism, namely, become metabolites of the biochemical systems of the host organism. For example, a material is biodegradable if at least 10%, at least 20%, at least 30%>, at least 40%, or more preferably, at least 50%), at least 60%>, at least 70%, at least 80%>, at least 90% of the material can decompose under physiological conditions within a desired period of time, such as on the order of minutes, hours, days, weeks, or months, depending on the exact material.

[00102] As used herein, the term "physiological conditions" refer to conditions of

temperature, pH, osmotic pressure, osmolality, oxidation and electrolyte concentration in vivo in a human patient or mammalian subject at the site of administration, or the site of action. For example, physiological conditions generally mean pH at about 6 to 8 and temperature of about 37° C in the presence of serum or other body fluids.

[00103] As used herein, the term "biocompatible" denotes being biologically compatible by not producing a toxic, injurious, or immunological response in living tissue.

[00104] As used herein, a "subject" means a human or animal. Usually the animal is a vertebrate such as a primate, rodent, domestic animal or game animal. Primates include chimpanzees, cynomologous monkeys, spider monkeys, and macaques, e.g., Rhesus. Rodents include mice, rats, woodchucks, ferrets, rabbits and hamsters. Domestic and game animals include cows, horses, pigs, rabbits, deer, bison, buffalo, goats, feline species, e.g., domestic cat, canine species, e.g., dog, fox, wolf, avian species, e.g., chicken, emu, ostrich, and fish, e.g., trout, catfish and salmon. Patient or subject includes any subset of the foregoing, e.g., all of the above, but excluding one or more groups or species such as humans, primates or rodents. In certain embodiments, the subject is a mammal, e.g., a primate, e.g., a human. The terms, "individual," "patient," "subject," and the like are used interchangeably herein. The terms do not denote a particular age, and thus encompass adults, children, and newborns. A subject can be a male or female.

[00105] Preferably, the subject is a mammal. The mammal can be a human, non-human primate, mouse, rat, dog, cat, horse, or cow, but is not limited to these examples. Mammals other than humans can be advantageously used as subjects in animal models of human treatment or disease. In addition, the methods and compositions described herein can be used for treatment of domesticated animals and/or pets. A human subject can be of any age, gender, race or ethnic group. In some embodiments, the subject can be a patient or other subject in a clinical setting. In some embodiments, the subject can already be undergoing treatment.

[00106] As used herein, the terms "treat," "treatment," "treating," or "amelioration" are used herein to characterize a method or process that is aimed at (1) delaying or preventing the onset of a disease or condition; (2) slowing down or stopping the progression, aggravation, or

deterioration of the symptoms of the disease or condition; or (3) bringing about ameliorations of the symptoms of the disease or condition. The term "treating" includes reducing or alleviating at least one adverse effect or symptom of a condition, disease or disorder. Treatment is generally "effective" if one or more symptoms or clinical markers are reduced. Alternatively, treatment is "effective" if the progression of a disease is reduced or halted. That is, "treatment" includes not just the improvement of symptoms or markers, but also slowing of progress or worsening of symptoms compared to what would be expected in the absence of treatment. Beneficial or desired clinical results include, but are not limited to, alleviation of one or more symptom(s), diminishment of extent of disease, stabilized (i.e., not worsening) state of disease, delay or slowing of disease progression, amelioration or palliation of the disease state, remission (whether partial or total), and/or decreased morbidity or mortality. The term "treatment" of a disease also includes providing relief from the symptoms or side-effects of the disease (including palliative treatment). A treatment can be administered prior to the onset of the disease, for a prophylactic or preventive action. Alternatively or additionally, the treatment can be administered after initiation of the disease or condition, for a therapeutic action.

[00107] As used herein, the term "soft tissue" includes all tissue of the body except bone. Examples of soft tissue include, but are not limited to, muscles, tendons, fibrous tissues, fat, blood vessels, nerves, and synovial tissues.

[00108] As used herein, the term "wound" is used to describe skin wounds as well as tissue wounds. A skin wound is defined herein as a break in the continuity of skin tissue that is caused by direct injury to the skin. Several classes including punctures, incisions, excisions, lacerations, abrasions, atrophic skin, or necrotic wounds and burns generally characterize skin wounds. In some embodiments, the compositions and methods of the invention are useful for enhancing the healing of wounds of the skin.

[00109] The terms "bioactive agent" and "biologically active agent" are used herein interchangeably. They refer to compounds or entities that alter, inhibit, activate or otherwise affect biological events.

[00110] Other than in the operating examples, or where otherwise indicated, all numbers expressing quantities of ingredients or reaction conditions used herein should be understood as modified in all instances by the term "about." The term "about" when used in connection with percentages may mean ±1% of the value being referred to. For example, about 100 means from 99 to 101.

[00111] The singular terms "a," "an," and "the" include plural referents unless context clearly indicates otherwise. Similarly, the word "or" is intended to include "and" unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

[00112] Although methods and materials similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of this disclosure, suitable methods and materials are described below. The abbreviation, "e.g." is derived from the Latin exempli gratia, and is used herein to indicate a non-limiting example. Thus, the abbreviation "e.g." is synonymous with the term "for example."

[00113] Although preferred embodiments have been depicted and described in detail herein, it will be apparent to those skilled in the relevant art that various modifications, additions, substitutions, and the like can be made without departing from the spirit of the invention and these are therefore considered to be within the scope of the invention as defined in the claims which follow. Further, to the extent not already indicated, it will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that any one of the various embodiments herein described and illustrated can be further modified to incorporate features shown in any of the other embodiments disclosed herein.

[00114] All patents and other publications; including literature references, issued patents, published patent applications, and co-pending patent applications; cited throughout this application are expressly incorporated herein by reference for the purpose of describing and disclosing, for example, the methodologies described in such publications that might be used in connection with the technology described herein. These publications are provided solely for their disclosure prior to the filing date of the present application. Nothing in this regard should be construed as an admission that the inventors are not entitled to antedate such disclosure by virtue of prior invention or for any other reason. All statements as to the date or representation as to the contents of these documents is based on the information available to the applicants and does not constitute any admission as to the correctness of the dates or contents of these documents.

[00115] The description of embodiments of the disclosure is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the disclosure to the precise form disclosed. While specific embodiments of, and examples for, the disclosure are described herein for illustrative purposes, various equivalent modifications are possible within the scope of the disclosure, as those skilled in the relevant art will recognize. For example, while method steps or functions are presented in a given order, alternative embodiments may perform functions in a different order, or functions may be performed substantially concurrently. The teachings of the disclosure provided herein can be applied to other procedures or methods as appropriate. The various embodiments described herein can be combined to provide further embodiments. Aspects of the disclosure can be modified, if necessary, to employ the compositions, functions and concepts of the above references and application to provide yet further embodiments of the disclosure.

[00116] Specific elements of any of the foregoing embodiments can be combined or substituted for elements in other embodiments. Furthermore, while advantages associated with certain embodiments of the disclosure have been described in the context of these embodiments, other embodiments may also exhibit such advantages, and not all embodiments need necessarily exhibit such advantages to fall within the scope of the disclosure.

EXAMPLES

[00117] The following examples illustrate some embodiments and aspects of the invention. It will be apparent to those skilled in the relevant art that various modifications, additions, substitutions, and the like can be performed without altering the spirit or scope of the invention, and such modifications and variations are encompassed within the scope of the invention as defined in the claims which follow. The technology described herein is further illustrated by the following examples which in no way should be construed as being further limiting.

Example 1: A highly elastic and rapidly crosslinkable elastin-like polypeptide-based hydrogel or biomedical applications

Methods

[00118] Protein Synthesis. A modified ELP was engineered by inserting a designed ELP sequence into a modified pET-28 plasmid containing Nhel and Spel restriction enzyme sites as well the amino acid sequence Lys-Cys-Thr-Ser flanking the ELP. First, oligomers encoding for these residues were acquired (Sigma), which had the following nucleotide sequences,

5' to 3' gatccaaatgtaccagcgctagcagtgtctaacgactagtaaatgcacgtcttaaa and

3' to 5' agcttttaagacgtgcatttactagtcgttagacactgctagcgctggtacatttg.

[00119] This sequence contained BamHI, Hindlll, Spel, and Nhel restriction sites. The oligomers were annealed together and ligated into a modified pET vector, cut with BamHI and Hindlll. After confirming correct ligation by sequencing, a digest with Nhel and Spel was performed to allow for the insertion of the ELP sequence, E14, also cut from a pET vector with Nhel and Spel . Following ligation, the sequence-confirmed plasmid was transformed into TurnerDE3 expression cells (New England Biolabs). A 50 mL starter culture of the expression E.coli cells in LB media was incubated overnight at 37 °C, followed by inoculation of a 5 L fermentation in Terrific Broth. Fermentation was allowed to proceed for 14 h at 30 °C in a fermenter. Filtered air was delivered to the culture for appropriate aeration, and propellers used for agitation. Cell pellets were initially centrifuged and frozen at -80 °C overnight. The cell pellets were suspended at a concentration of 100 mL buffer per 30 g cell pellet mass, on ice, in buffer (100 mM Tris, 100 mM NaCl, 5 mM MgCl2, 1 mM EDTA, 14.3 mM BME) adjusted to pH = 7.5. Lysozyme (1 mg/mL buffer) was added for 30 min followed by sonication. The solution was then purified by inverse transition cycling (ITC). The solution was centrifuged at 4 °C and the supernatant was decanted from the pelleted cell debris. DNase and RNase was added to the supernatant and the solution was incubated at 37 °C for 1 h. The solution was centrifuged for 1 h at 37 °C and the supernatant was decanted from the pelleted ELPs, which were suspended in cold buffer and allowed to dissolve at 4 °C overnight. The process was continued, with aliquots taken of each supernatant after spinning at hot (37 °C) and cold (4 °C) temperatures for analysis by denaturing SDS-PAGE, stained with Coomassie Blue dye. After ITC, the buffered solution was dialyzed against 4 L of water for 21 h, exchanging the water every 3 h. Dialyzed solutions were then freeze dried and stored in sealed centrifuge tubes until use.

[00120] Hydrogel fabrication. Lyophilized ELP was dissolved in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) containing 0.5% (w/v) 2-hydroxy-l-(4-(hydroxyethoxy) phenyl)-2-methyl-l-propanone (Irgacure® 2959, CIBA Chemicals). To avoid coacervation and precipitation of ELP prior to crosslinking, ELP solutions at defined concentrations were mixed and stored on ice. 90 μΕ of ELP solution was placed in pre-manufactured poly dimethyl siloxane (PDMS) molds (15mm x 6mm x 1mm). Solutions were photocrosslinked with UV light (80mm sample-source distance, OmniCure S2000, 360-480 nm wavelength, 850 mW) for 3 min. Samples were then collected from the molds and detached after soaking in PBS for 2 min to ensure easy removal from the mold.

[00121] Reduced Protein Gel. A 10% (w/v) photocrosslinked ELP gel was incubated in a 30 mM tris (2-carboxy ethyl) phosphine hydrochloride (TCEP) solution overnight at room temperature to reduce all disulfide bonds. The TCEP concentration was a 5-fold molar excess relative to the concentration of cysteine residues. A small solid portion remained after this reduction but the rest of the gel was completely dissolved into the TCEP solution. The resulting solution containing the dissolved gel proteins and TCEP was then dialyzed against pure water, lyophilized, and mixed with a Coomassie Blue loading dye containing 30 mM TCEP. Samples were loaded and run on a 12% SDS-polyacrylamide gel at 200 V for 40 min. The polyacrylamide gel was stained in Coomassie Blue R-250 staining dye and destained in destaining solution (50 vol % double distilled water, 40 vol% ethanol, and 10 vol% acetic acid).

[00122] Scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Photocrosslinked ELP hydrogel samples were lyophilized and mounted on aluminum holders. A 30 nm thick gold layer was sputter coated on all samples prior to imaging. Secondary electron imaging was obtained by using a FEI/Philips XL30 FEG SEM at 15 kV. ImageJ software was used to calculate the apparent pore

size of the ELP hydrogels after lyophilization. Triplicates of 10, 15 and 20% (w/v) ELP samples were imaged and 30 pores were measured per image for pore size measurement (n=90).

[00123] Swelling ratio. The swelling ratios of 10, 15 and 20% (w/v) ELP hydrogels were evaluated in PBS at 4 °C and 37 °C. Swelling tests were performed as previously reported (Foo CTWP, et al, Proc Natl Acad Sci 106, 22067-22072 (2009); Assmann A, et al, Biomaterials 35, 7416-7428 (2014)). Briefly, 90 μΐ of ELP solution was injected into a PDMS mold with a 7 mm diameter and 5 mm depth. The prepolymer solution was exposed to UV light for 3 min.

Hydrogels were lyophilized and dry weights were recorded. Next, samples were placed in PBS for different time points (4, 12, 24, 48 h) at 4 °C or 37 °C. At each time point, samples were removed from PBS and weighed. The swelling ratio was calculated following the equation: Swelling ratio: (Wwet-Wdry)/Wdry x 100%, where Wdry is the weight after lyophilizing and Wwet is after removal from PBS. Tests were performed at least in triplicate for each condition.

[00124] Mechanical characterization. Tensile and compressive cyclic testing of ELP hydrogels were performed using a mechanical tester (Instron model 5542) with a 10 N load cell.

[00125] Tensile test. For tensile tests, gels were photocrosslinked as described above

(dimensions 15 mm x 5 mm x 1 mm) for tensile tests. The samples were then incubated in PBS for 4 h at 37 °C prior to mechanical testing. The dimensions of the samples were measured with a digital caliper. To minimize dehydration during testing, a humidifier was used surrounding the testing apparatus. The strain rate was 10 mm/min and performed until sample failure. Ultimate tensile stress (stress obtained at the failure point), maximum strain (strain obtained at the failure point), and elastic modulus (the tangent slope of the stress-strain curve, taken from the 0.1-0.3 mm/mm of the strain) were determined.

[00126] Compression test. ELP samples were prepared using the same molds utilized for swelling tests (7 mm in diameter and 5 mm in depth). Prior to the test, hydrogels were incubated in PBS for 4 h. The compressive strain rate was 10 mm/min and strain level was up to ~ 70% of the original height. The compression and load were recorded for 10 cycles, after which there was no significant change in the curve shape. The compressive modulus was obtained from the slope during loading on the 8th cycle (the tangent slope of the stress-strain curve). The energy loss was calculated for the 8th cycle based on the area between the loading and unloading curves, based on the following equation:

[00127] Energy Loss = [(Area below loading- Area below unloading) X 100]/ (Area below loading)

[00128] Samples were tested in triplicate for each condition.

[00129] Cell culture. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC, from Lonza) and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs, from American Type Culture Collection (ATCC)) were used for the in vitro studies. MSCs were cultured in mesenchymal stem cell growth medium (MSC-GM, Lonza) with 10% fetal bovine serum (FBS, Invitrogen), glutamine-penicillin-streptomycin (GPS, Invitrogen). HUVECs were cultured in endothelial basal medium (EBM-2, Lonza) enriched with endothelial growth factors (BulletKit, Lonza) and 100 units/ml penicillin-streptomycin (Gibco, USA). MSCs and HUVECs were cultured in a 5% C02 humidified incubator at 37 °C. Cells were passaged every 3 days and medium changed every other day.

[00130] In vitro 2D cell studies. 10 μΕ of 10% ELP solutions were photocrosslinked for 30 s on 3-(trimethoxysilyl)propyl methacrylate (TMSPMA) coated glass slides using 150 μπι spacers. Cells were then seeded on the top of the ELP gels placed in a 24 well plate. The cell seeding density was 1 x 104 cell/well. Cell viability and proliferation were studied on day 1, 4, and 7 of culture. Medium was changed every other day.

[00131] Cell viability. Cell viability assays were performed using a Live/Dead kit

(Invitrogen, USA) following instructions from the manufacturer. Briefly, ethidium homodimer-1 (2 μΐ/ml) and calcein AM (0.5 μΐ/ml) were mixed in PBS and added on cell-seeded ELP scaffolds. The samples were then incubated for 15 min at 37 °C and imaged with an inverted fluorescence microscope (Nikon TE 2000-U, Nikon instruments Inc., USA). ImageJ was used to count the live and dead cells by using at least 4 images from different areas of 3 samples for each ELP condition. Cell viability was calculated by division of the number of live cells by the total number of stained cells.

[00132] Metabolic activity. Cell activity was measured with PrestoBlue™ reagents (Life Technologies) following the manufacturer's protocol. Each construct was incubated with 400 μΐ of a solution containing 10% PrestoBlue™ reagent and 90% respective cell media (MSC-GM media for MSCs and EBM-2 for HUVECs) for 2 h at 37 °C. The resulting fluorescence was measured at a wavelength of 560 nm (excitation) and 590 nm (emission) with a fluorescence reader (Synergy HT -Reader, BioTek, Winooski, VT). By subtracting the fluorescence values from the control (wells without cells), the relative fluorescence values were calculated and

plotted for each day, where higher fluorescence values correlate to greater total metabolic activity. Samples were tested in triplicate for each condition.

[00133] In vitro clotting tests. Citrated human blood was mixed with 0.1 M CaCl2 at a ratio of 9: 1 to reverse anticoagulation. Following vigorous mixing by vortexing for 1-2 s, 100 μΐ. were aliquoted into 96 well plates with bottoms coated in either Ludox® TM-50 (Sigma) colloidal nanoparticle suspension (labelled Ludox®), 50 μΐ. of 10% photocrosslinked ELP (labelled KCTS-E31-KCTS), 50 μΐ. of 10% photocrosslinked ELP with 10 μΐ, Ludox® TM-50 pipetted on the surface (labelled KCTS-E3i-KCTS+Ludox®), or uncoated well plates (labelled Control). At selected time points, individual wells were rinsed with 9 mg/mL saline solution and the liquid aspirated until the solution remained clear, indicating removal of all soluble blood components, and leaving behind only clotted blood. The clotting time was marked as the time in which a uniform clot covered the entire bottom of the well plate.

[00134] Animal Experiments. For all animal experiments, male Wistar rats weighing 200-250g were obtained from Charles River (Wilmington, MA, USA) and housed in the local animal care facility of the Partners Research Building (Cambridge, MA, USA) under conditions of circadian day-night rhythm and feeding ad libitum. Anesthesia was achieved by isoflurane inhalation (2.0-2.5%>). All experiments were conducted according to the NIH "Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals", and approved by the local animal care committee (LIMA Standing Committee on Animals; protocol number 05055).

[00135] Subcutaneous Implants. The medio-dorsal skin of rats was incised by 1 cm in length and a small lateral subcutaneous pocket was bluntly prepared. ELP samples (n=20; 1x5 mm disks) were thoroughly implanted under sterile conditions before anatomical wound closure and recovery from anesthesia. At days 3, 14, 28 and 56, euthanasia by C02 inhalation was followed by explanation of the ELP samples including the adjacent tissue. Afterwards, the samples were processed for histological analyses and degradation studies.

[00136] Histology and immunohistology. Histological analyses were performed on 6 μιη cryo-sections of the explanted ELP samples. After fixation with paraformaldehyde, hematoxylin and eosin staining was conducted as previously reported (Assmann A, et al., Biomaterials 34, 6015-6026 (2013)). Immunohistological staining was performed. As primary antibodies, anti-CD3 and anti-CD68 (Abeam, Cambridge, MA, USA) were used, and all secondary antibodies were Alexa Fluor®-conjugated (Invitrogen, Carlsbad, USA). Sections were covered with DAPI-

enriched Vectashield mounting medium (Vector Labs, Peterborough, United Kingdom) and visualized on an Axio Observer microscope (Zeiss, Jena, Germany).

[00137] In vivo liver bleeding. A median laparotomy was performed and the central liver lobe was visualized by retraction of skin. A 0.5 cm cut was made through the edge of the lobe with straight operating scissors. After removing hemorrhaged blood with dry filter paper, photocrosslinked KCTS-E31-KCTS samples (n=3 animals; 90 μΐ. of 10 wt% KCTS-E3i-KCTS, 0.5% photoinitiator crosslinked for 180 s) were deposited on the wound with a spatula.

Additional samples had Ludox® TM-50 solution (20 [iL) added to the top and bottom of KCTS-E3i-KCTS photocrosslinked samples (n=3 animals). These were added to the wounds in the same way as KCTS-E3i-KCTS samples. After application of the hydrogel, lost blood was absorbed on filter papers for later mass quantification until bleeding ceased. Following this observation, the time was marked and the crosslinked sample was removed to test for subsequent bleeding. Rats were then sacrificed by severing of the aorta.

[00138] Statistical analysis. Data were compared using one-way or two-way ANOVA methods, depending on the variables in the data set, in GraphPad Prism 6. Data are expressed as means ± standard deviation (SD) of measurements (*p < 0.05, **p < 0.01 and ***p < 0.001).

Results

[00139] Expression and fabrication of ELP hydrogels. The expression of engineered ELPs in this study were performed by fermentation in Escherichia coli (E. coli) hosts, followed by lysis and purification by inverse transition cycling (Meyer DE, et al, Nat Biotech 17, 1112-1115 (1999)). Briefly, ELP solutions were alternatively equilibrated and centrifuged above (37 °C) and below (4 °C) their LCST (Tt=29 °C) in 1% (w/v) solution. Yields of pure ELP (purity >90%) were 1 g/L for 5 L fermentations (FIGs. 7A-7B). The ELP pentapeptide sequence is composed of the amino acids VPGVG in which every fifth pentapeptide replaced the first valine with an isoleucine (i.e. [[VPGVG]4lPGVG]n). Two polypeptides were expressed: one with the residues Lys-Cys-Thr-Ser (KCTS) flanking the ELP sequence (named KCTS-E3i-KCTS) and the second without any flanking residues (named E22) (FIG. 1 A). Flanking sequences containing cysteine residues were chosen for their potential to promote chain extension and improve elasticity of the resulting hydrogel (Odian G. Principles of Polymerization, Fourth edn (2004)).

[00140] In an attempt to produce photocrosslinkable ELP hydrogels, the experiments described herein confirmed that only cysteine-containing ELPs, KCTS-E31-KCTS, could be photocrosslinked and form elastic gels following exposure to UV light in the presence of a photoinitiator, Irgacure ® 2959 (FIG. IB). Stable gels were formed between 30 s and 3 min of irradiation depending on their volume, and gelation was confirmed using an inversion test (FIG. 1C). Thiols, present in KCTS-E31-KCTS ELP, are generally used in radical polymerizations as chain transfer agents (Chiou B-S, et al, Macromolecules 29, 5368-5374 (1996)). In

polymerization, they serve to transfer radicals to initiate new chains (Denes F, et al, Chem Rev 114, 2587-2693 (2014)). However, in the crosslinking of the KCTS-E31-KCTS ELP, it is hypothesized that thiols perform two functions: (a) producing disulfide bonds and (b) generating chain extension (Odian G. Principles of Polymerization, Fourth edn (2004)) of the ELP.

Following irradiation of the photoinitiator, radicals react first with the S-H bonds, which have the lowest binding dissociation energy in the peptide system (Hawkins CL, Davies ML. Biochim Biophys Acta 1504, 196-219 (2001)). Further crosslinking among residues or backbone groups of the ELP must also occur to produce a hydrogel network, as two thiols per ELP would only result in chain extension. Crosslinks among ELP residues are presumed to occur by transfer of radicals from the photoinitiator, leading to a stable hydrogel network.

[00141] To confirm these hypotheses of the crosslinking mechanism, ELPs containing cysteine residues (KCTS-E31-KCTS) and ELPs containing only the pentapeptide repeat (E22) were irradiated under identical conditions. Gels were only formed in KCTS-E31-KCTS samples, indicating the inability of the residues in the E22 sequence alone to form a photocrosslinked gel. To determine the nature of these crosslinks, photocrosslinked KCTS-E31-KCTS ELP gels were incubated in 30 mM tris (2-carboxy ethyl) phosphine hydrochloride (TCEP) solution as an irreversible reducing agent to break disulfide bonds. This procedure resulted in almost complete dissolution of the gel (FIG. 1C), suggesting disulfide bond formation is a factor, but not the only source, of crosslinks in the system. Gel electrophoresis bands around double the molecular weight of KCTS-E31-KCTS and E22 were observed after irradiation and complete reduction, indicative of chemically crosslinked ELP dimers (FIG. ID). Their presence, even after reduction in an excess of reducing agent, indicates that some crosslinking, other than disulfide bonds, persisted in the reduced photocrosslinked ELPs. The nature of these crosslinks is unclear;

however, while not wishing to be bound by theory, they may involve peroxyl formation in an

oxygen rich environment and hydrogen abstraction from peptide or backbone residues (Davies ML, Arch Biochem Biophys 336, 163-172 (1996); Kim SJ, et al, React Fund Polym 55, 53-59 (2003)). It is speculated that additional radicals, formed by hydrogen abstraction from ELP residues (Hawkins CL, Davies ML, Biochim Biophys Acta 1504, 196-219 (2001); Davies ML, Arch Biochem Biophys 336, 163-172 (1996)) were produced by radical transfer from the photoinitiator. There was a three-fold molar excess of photoinitiator in the system compared to thiol groups, providing sufficient radicals for rapid reaction of the thiol groups. It is hypothesized that additional crosslinks between moieties (from C-H, O-H, or N-H groups) in the ELP sequence occurred due to the radical transfer from the photoinitiator and those were not reduced when incubated in a reducing agent. However, without the more rapidly generated disulfide bonds, gels are not formed from E22 within an acceptable photocrosslinking time. The combination of disulfide bond formation and the crosslinking of ELP residues resulted in a covalently crosslinked elastic hydrogel.

[00142] Physical Characterization of ELP hydrogels. Photocrosslinked KCTS-E3 KCTS ELPs exhibited tunable physical properties including pore size (FIGs. 2A-2D), swelling ratio (FIGs. 2E, 2F), and mechanical properties (FIGs. 3 A-3F) based on ELP prepolymer

concentrations. For example, the apparent pore size and swelling ratios of the ELP hydrogels decreased as the ELP concentrations increased (FIGs. 2A-2F). The apparent pore size of the ELP hydrogels decreased from 4.70 ± 0.48 μιη to 1.58 ± 0.24 μιη and 1.53 ± 0.20 μιη as the ELP concentrations increased from 10% to 15% and 20% (w/v), respectively (FIGs. 2A-2D) (p < 0.0001 between 10% and 15%, 10% and 20%). As shown in FIG. 2E, increased ELP

concentrations decreased hydrogel swelling ratios. After 4 h incubation in PBS at 37 °C, the mass swelling ratios were 104.8 ±15.3, 74.8 ± 8.1, and 60.3 ± 14.7 % for ELP concentrations of 10, 15, and 20% (w/v), respectively (p < 0.05 between 10% and 20%). In addition, swelling ratios (Okajima T, et al, The Journal of Chemical Physics 116, 9068-9077 (2002)) reached equilibrium after 24 h at 207.3 ± 31.5, 155.9 ± 10.1 and 138.3 ± 18.7 % for ELP concentrations of 10%), 15%) and 20% (w/v), respectively (FIG. 2E). This suggests that constructs containing higher concentrations of thiols are likely able to form more crosslinks, producing a denser micro structure with smaller pore sizes and lower swelling ratios (Lim DW, et al,

Biomacromolecules 9, 222-230 (2007)). Indeed, the ELP hydrogels had denser apparent micro structures compared to another chemically crosslinked ELP (Debelle L, Tamburro AM.,

The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology 31, 261-272 (1999)) and a UV crosslinked recombinant human tropoelastin (MeTro) hydrogel that were recently synthesized (Foo CTWP, et al, Proc Natl Acad Sci 106, 22067-22072 (2009)). In addition, the resulting ELP hydrogels continued swelling and deswelling in response to temperature fluctuations above and below the LCST (lower critical solution temperature), indicating the preservation of the ELP thermoresponsive nature after photocrosslinking. For example, there was a significant increase (p<0.01) in the swelling ratio, up to 1.5 times larger for 10% ELP hydrogels, when the swollen hydrogels were transferred from 37 °C to 4 °C (FIG. 2F). Maximum percent swelling of -300% was measured at temperatures below the LCST of the ELP, which is in agreement with other reported ELP hydrogels (Chou C, et al, Chemical Science 2, 480-483 (2011)) and in contrast to other standard hydrogels lacking a LCST, which exhibit similar swelling at elevated

temperatures (Okajima T, et al., The Journal of Chemical Physics 116, 9068-9077 (2002)). The hydrophobicity of the ELP sequence explains its lower swelling ratios in contrast to hydrogels composed of more hydrophilic polymers (Bertassoni LE, et al., Lab on a Chip 14, 2202-2211 (2014)).

[00143] The mechanical properties of ELP hydrogels, including elastic modulus, maximum strain, stress at failure, and energy loss, based on tensile and compression tests are shown in FIGs. 3A-3G and also summarized in Table 1. All the engineered ELP hydrogels were highly elastic as confirmed by performing tensile testing (FIG. 3 A). The fabricated hydrogels showed elastic modulus of 1.28 ± 0.17 kPa, 1.72 ± 0.11 kPa, and 2.21 ± 0.36 kPa (p < 0.05 between 10% and 15%, p < 0.01 between 15% and 20%, and p < 0.0001 between 10% and 20%) and ultimate tensile strengths of 6.46 ± 0.35 kPa, 7.71 ± 0.53 kPa, and 10.09 ± 1.81 kPa for ELP gels produced by using 10%, 15%, and 20% (w/v) ELP prepolymer solutions (FIGs. 3B-3C, Table 1). In addition, the ELP hydrogels that were formed by using lower protein concentration (10% w/v) were capable of achieving larger ultimate strain (extensibility) at fracture compared to higher concentration gels (FIG. 3B). Lower ELP concentration decreases the number of crosslinks in the system, increasing the molecular weight between crosslinks, Mc, in the network. The larger molecular weight between crosslinks allows for large extensibility as the relaxed ELP coil is extended into an entropically unfavorable stretched state (Charati MB, et al., Soft Matter 5, 3412-3416 (2009)). After removal of the applied strain, the recoil is thermodynamically favorable and explains the high extensibility and low hysteresis observed in the system. The extensibilities of resulting ELP gels were much higher than previously fabricated ELP-collagen hydrogels (up to 80%) and other types of elastic polypeptides (ranging from 80-180 %) (He D, et al, PLoS ONE 7, 1-12 (2012); Sun J-Y, et al., Nature 489, 133-136 (2012)), extending the applications of these materials into flexible and stretchable substrates for various biomedical applications (tissue engineering of elastic tissues, injectable elastic materials etc.) (Rogers JA, et al., Science 327, 1603-1607 (2010); Annabi N, et al, Adv Mater 26, 85-124 (2014)). This highlights the ability of thiols to improve extensibility through chain extension (Odian G. Principles Of Polymerization, Fourth edn (2004)). As a source of comparison, extensibility of a native pulmonary artery varies from 158 ± 25% to 282 ± 48% depending on the direction of tensile loading; thus

photocrosslinked ELP hydrogels developed here are capable of withstanding extensions in excess of those achieved in arterial tissue (Foo CTWP, et al., Proc Natl Acad Sci 106, 22067- 22072 (2009); Baranoski S., Nursing 38, 60-61 (2008)).

Table 1. Mechanical characterization of photocrosslinked ELP hydrogels.

10 1.28 ± 0.17 6.46 ± 0.35 419 ± 25 3.01 ± 0.44 35.13 ± 2.55

15 1.72 ± 0.11 7.71 ± 0.53 395 ± 10 6.15 ± 0.28 42.10 ± 4.37

20 2.21 ± 0.36 10.09 ± 1.81 388 ± 12 13.05 ± 1.20 51.15 ± 2.90

[00144] Cyclic compression of the ELPs showed complete recoverability of the gel after multiple cycles of compression (FIGs. 3D-3G). As shown in FIG. 3E, all the formulations of ELP hydrogels deformed reversibly following 10 cycles of loading and unloading, with compression strain up to ~ 70%. The compressive moduli were 3.01 ± 0.44 kPa, 6.15 ± 0.28 kPa and 13.05 ± 1.2 kPa when the ELP concentration was increased from 10%, 15%, to 20 %(w/v) (FIG. 3F, Table 1) (p < 0.01 between 10% and 15%, p < 0.0001 between 15% and 20%, 10% and 20%). These values are similar to chemically crosslinked ELP[KV7F-72] hydrogels developed by Lim et al. (4-11 kPa) (Debelle L, Tamburro AM., The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology 31, 261-272 (1999)). Energy loss based on cycle 8 was also found to be 35.13 ± 2.55%, 42.10 ± 4.37% and 51.15 ± 2.90 % for hydrogels with 10%, 15%, and 20% (w/v) of ELP (FIG. 3G. Table 1) (p < 0.01 between 10% and 20%, p < 0.05 between 15% and 20%). Previous

studies showed that other hydrogels such as hybrid alginate/polyacrylamide gels exhibited high hysteresis and permanent deformation after cyclic loading with some weakening after the second cycle of compression (Omidian H, et al., Macromol Biosci 6, 703-710 (2006)). Despite high energy dissipation during loading/unloading (FIG. 3G), the minimal fatigue observed in photocrosslinked ELP hydrogels after compressive loading confirmed that the elastic nature of ELP gels is preserved through repeated deformations, necessary for implants such as those for cartilage or intervertebral discs (Nettles DL, et al., Adv Drug Delivery Rev 62, 1479-1485 (2010)).

[00145] In vitro biocompatibility of ELP hydrogels. Photocrosslinked ELP gels permitted the growth and proliferation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) as model cells, which confirms their biocompatibility. Cells were cultured on the surface of 10% photocrosslinked ELP hydrogels for 7 days (FIGs. 4A-4B). Cellular viability and metabolic activity were assessed for both MSCs and HUVECs. Cell viability was higher than 80% on ELP hydrogels 1, 4 and 7 days after cell seeding (FIG. 4C), suggesting that the engineered ELP gel had no toxicity on either MSCs or HUVECs. In addition, the metabolic activities of the cells were quantified by PrestoBlue™ as shown in FIG. 4D. The capacity of the ELP hydrogel to support cellular proliferation was supported by the significant increase in fluorescence intensity between days 1 and 7 (p<0.0001). Cell spreading was limited for both cell types, which can be due to the lack of cell recognition sites such as arginine-glycine-aspartic acid peptides (RGD) in the ELP sequence that can promote cell adhesion and spreading (Raphel J, et al., J Mater Chem 22, 19429-19437 (2012); Costa RR, et al. , Adv Funct Mater 19, 3210-3218 (2009); Hrabchak C, et al, Acta Biomater 6, 2108-2115 (2010)). For tissue engineering applications of these ELP hydrogels, bioactive peptide modifications can be easily incorporated, as explained in previous studies (Baranoski S., Nursing 38, 60-61 (2008); Galler KM, et al., J Am Chem Soc 132, 3217-3223 (2010)), to improve cell viability (Uny DW, et al., Journal of Bioactive and Compatible Polymers 6, 263-282 (1991)).

[00146] In vivo biocompatibility of ELP hydrogels. ELP gels were subcutaneously implanted in rats to assess gel stability and local interaction of the implant with the animal tissue as well as the immune response of the host. Harvesting of ELP samples at days 7, 14, 28 and 56 revealed maintenance of the macroscopic shapes of the implants during the entire study period, suggesting no relevant degradation of the gels (FIG. 5A). The dry weight of the explanted

samples was maintained constant during the first 4 weeks, while the weight was significantly (p < 0.001) increased at 8 weeks (FIG. 5B). Constant weight is explained by a lack of degradation, whereas an increase in weight after 8 weeks was due to tissue growth onto the ELP construct. Indeed, hematoxylin and eosin staining of subcutaneous ELP implants showed early and progressive growth of predominantly non-inflammatory tissue from the recipient on the samples, implying biocompatibility and integration of the ELP hydrogels in vivo (FIG. 5C).

[00147] Thorough evaluation of the histology, samples did not reveal a relevant amount of mononuclear inflammatory cells, which would have been typical of strong local immune response by the host (FIG. 5C). Corroborating this observation, immunohistological staining against surface markers of inflammatory cells proved that there was no lymphocyte infiltration (CD3) in the samples or in the surrounding subcutaneous tissue. Additionally, mild macrophage invasion (CD68) into the interface zone between the sample and the host tissue was observed at day 7, but it completely disappeared by day 28 (FIG. 5D). These data together confirm the biocompatibility of the engineered ELP hydrogels as scaffolds for tissue engineering

applications.

[00148] In vitro and in vivo hemostatic potential. Given the stability and biocompatibility of the engineered ELPs, an investigation of their potential as an elastic hemostatic material was performed. Hemostatic materials are used in surgical, emergency, and combat situations to manage uncontrolled bleeding by multiple mechanisms (Gaharwar AK, et al., ACS Nano 8, 9833-9842 (2014)). Release of clotting factors, absorption of fluid, and sealing are all hemostatic mechanisms (Spotnitz WD, World journal of surgery 34, 632-634 (2010)). An advantage of absorbent, sealing, or adhesive hemostatic materials is their independence from the clotting cascade, which can be compromised in some patients. The physical barrier formed by the hemostatic materials can staunch blood loss while the body progresses through hemostasis (Spotnitz WD, I SRN Surgery 2014, 28 (2014); van Der Ham AC, et al., British Journal of Surgery 78, 49-53 (1991); Meddahi-Pelle A, et ai., Angew Chem int Ed 53, 6369-6373 (2014)). The use of colloidal solutions of silica nanoparticles as hemostatic agents and tissue adhesives has been recently demonstrated (Rose S, et al., Nature 505, 382-385 (2014); Behrens AM, et al., Acta Biomater 10, 701-708 (2014)). These solutions function to bind tissues together, in a process termed nanobridging, forming effective hemostatic seals in the presence of blood.

Nanobridging occurs when nanoparticles in solution form connections that can adhere tissues

together (Rose S, et al., Nature 505, 382-385 (2014)). However, as colloidal solutions, delivery to a wound would be suboptimum due to their ability to flow away from the injury site. Using a flexible substrate to deliver a coating of colloidal particles will 1) provide control over the concentration of colloidal solution delivered to a wound based on surface area, 2), maintain intimate contact between the colloidal particles and the wound site, and 3) provide an elastic substrate responsive to mechanical deformations of the wounded tissue. Here, the ELPs were combined with the colloidal solutions of nanoparticles and their hemostatic potential was tested (FIG. 6A).

[00149] The absorption of silica nanoparticles as a colloidal solution on the surface of photocrosslinked ELP resulted in decreased clotting times in vitro and in vivo. A schematic of silica nanoparticle (NP; Ludox® TM-50) solutions combined with the photocrosslinked ELP hydrogel is shown in FIG. 6A. To form ELP/NP hemostatic hydrogels, a drop of 50 wt% NP solution was absorbed on photocrosslinked ELP gels. The ability of engineered NP modified photocrosslinked ELP to promote clotting was then investigated in vitro. A clotting time assay was performed in which wells of a 96-well plate were used to monitor the progression of clot formation. After set times, washing wells containing combinations of activated blood, photocrosslinked ELP, and NPs with a saline solution caused only clotted blood to remain in the well (FIG. 6B). Volumes as small as 2 μΕ of NP in 100 [iL blood were able to decrease clotting times compared to controls. Maximum decrease in clotting time was observed with 10 μΕ NP solution per 100 [iL blood, with a 46% drop in clotting time compared to controls, comparable to commercial hemostats (Spotnitz WD, World journal of surgery 34, 632-634 (2010)).

Photocrosslinked ELP with 10 [iL NP pipetted onto the ELP surface prior to addition of blood was able to decrease clotting times by 53% compared to controls (FIG. 6C). The extended clotting time for the control sample compared to other observed whole blood clotting times (Spotnitz WD, World journal of surgery 34, 632-634 (2010)) is likely due to variability between donors. However, using this time as an internal control, the improvements in clotting time with ELP and NP treatments suggest a synergistic effect on clotting when both are used.

[00150] When applied in vivo, photocrosslinked ELP samples modified with NP solution promoted hemostasis in standardized liver wounds with acute hemorrhage that was otherwise lethal, as demonstrated in a recent study (Spotnitz WD, World journal of surgery 34, 632-634 (2010)). A schematic of liver wound creation and treatment with NP-coated ELP is shown in

FIG. 6D. When Ps were coated on the surface of photocrosslinked ELP, improvements in clotting time and blood loss were greater than when photocrosslinked ELP was applied to the wound alone. Placement of the photocrosslinked ELP samples on liver wounds resulted in occlusive clotting within 10 min, while P-modified ELP decreased the bleeding time to below 2 min. When ELP and NP were combined in treatment, blood mass loss was 76% and 94% lower after 1 and 10 min, respectively compared to treatment with ELP alone (FIG. 6E). Similar decreases in blood loss and hemostasis time have been observed with acrylamide-based particles in liver bleeding models (Coin I, et al., Peptides for Youth 611, 127-128 (2009)). Additionally, further blood loss was still observed after 10 min when only ELP was applied to liver bleeding while blood loss was only observed for an average of 1.5 min when NP was coated on the ELP surface. Removal of the hydrogel from the wound did not cause re-bleeding, indicating sufficient sealing of the wound. Improvement in clotting time upon the addition of nanoparticles highlights the ability to modify the photocrosslinked ELPs for treatment of hemorrhage. The ability of the nanoparticles to promote hemostasis when coated on photocrosslinked ELP creates a hemostat with improved extensibility and stability in vivo. Such systems can be utilized for vascular or soft tissue injuries which require a combination of clotting ability, elasticity, and flexibility to adjust to wounds with complex geometry or moving tissue (Gaharwar AK, et al, ACSNano 8, 9833-9842 (2014); Spotnitz WD, ISRN Surgery 2014, 28 (2014)).

Discussion

[00151] Elastic hydrogels can serve as scaffolds for various biomedical applications.

Combinations of physical and chemical crosslinks in this system produced recoverable (from physical bonds) and tough (from chemical bonds) gels, which can be used for tissue engineering applications. Other synthetic polymers like poly(glycerol-sebacate) (PGS) can form

biodegradable scaffolds that combine hydrogen bonding between hydroxyl groups and covalent bonding to generate elastic biomaterials that are also biocompatible (Wang Y et al., Nat Biotech 20, 602-606 (2002)). Nanocomposite hydrogels can also achieve high elasticity with additional functionality, such as electrical conductivity (Li Y, Shimizu H., Macromolecules 42, 2587-2593 (2009)). These systems can be used to form biomaterials with high moduli and strain recovery but may require harsh processing conditions (e.g. high temperature) or the use of toxic solvents, which may limit their biological applications. Though some are biocompatible, most of the

synthetic polymer-based elastic scaffolds lack bioactive sequences to promote cell adhesion or migration, which is important for their tissue engineering applications.

[00152] Bioactive sequences can be incorporated into synthetic elastomers to improve their biological properties (Zhu J, Marchant RE, Expert review of medical devices 8, 607-626 (2011)) but an even more direct approach is to utilize protein-based polymer to develop elastic scaffolds. Elastic hydrogels have been developed from ELPs using block copolymer designs that contain hydrophilic and hydrophobic domains, and crosslinkable blocks to generate chemically crosslinked gels (Debelle L, Tamburro AM, The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology 31, 261-272 (1999)). Other recombinant approaches have incorporated lysines within elastin-like blocks followed by conjugation of diazirine groups to facilitate photoreactive crosslinking of ELPs. However, these systems require the additional conjugation of the photoreactive group to ELP sequence and 1-2 h of UV exposure for the photocrosslinking of ELPs (Raphel J, et al., J Mater Chem 22, 19429-19437 (2012)). Non-canonical amino acids can also be incorporated into peptides by synthetic methods using solid phase synthesis but are limited to low molecular weight peptides (Chin JW, et al., Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 99, 11020-11024 (2002)). Genetic engineering has been also applied to design novel tRNA and incorporate photoreactive benzophenones (Carrico IS, et al, J Am Chem Soc 129, 4874-4875 (2007)) and /?ara-azidophenylalanine (Lim DW, et al., Biomacromolecules 8, 1463-1470 (2007)) into ELPs expressed by E. coli. All these techniques require modified genetic machinery. In addition, providing non-canonical amino acids can in some instances complicate production of peptides for biomedical applications.

[00153] Here, recombinantly expressed ELP hydrogels have been developed that were shown to photocrosslink without additional modifications to the as-expressed protein sequence. The gels were extensible up to 420% strain and fatigue resistant in compression. The inclusion of thiol groups on expressed ELPs allowed for rapid photocrosslinking (Nettles DL, et al, Tissue engineering Part A 14, 1133-1140 (2008); Betre H, et al., Biomaterials 27, 91-99 (2006)) of hydrogels that maintained the elasticity and biocompatibility inherent in ELPs. The large extensibility (420% strain at fracture) of these KCTS-E31-KCTS ELPs is important for the engineering of elastic tissues (Foo CTWP, et al., Proc Natl Acad Sci 106, 22067-22072 (2009); Baranoski S., Nursing 38, 60-61 (2008)). The recombinant design of these KCTS-E31-KCTS gels allow for exceptional control over the presentation of bioactive peptide sequences, which can be used to improve cell viability, proliferation or promote specific cellular interactions in vitro or in vivo (Raphel J, et al., J Mater Chem 22, 19429-19437 (2012); Hrabchak C, et al, Acta Biomater 6, 2108-2115 (2010); Lee KY, Mooney DJ., Chem Rev 101, 1869-1880 (2001)).

[00154] In vivo examination revealed excellent biocompatibility and minimal degradation resulting in early and progressive growth of host tissue. Slowly degrading systems can provide a matrix within which tissue growth can be supported (Annabi N, et al., Biomaterials 30, 1-7 (2009)). The possibility for conjugation of bioactive sequences into recombinant proteins provides that such a photocrosslinkable ELP could be tailored for a wide range of tissue applications, including cartilage regeneration (Nettles DL, et al., Tissue engineering Part A 14, 1133-1140 (2008); McHale MK, et al., Tissue Eng 11, 1768-1779 (2005)), and vascular and ocular applications (Nettles DL, et al., Adv Drug Delivery Rev 62, 1479-1485 (2010)), among others. Since crosslinking can be localized, the ELP can likewise function as tissue fillers, conforming to the shape of defects and subsequently being crosslinked to stabilize the hydrogel. Furthermore, hemostatic functionalization with Ludox® TM-50 nanoparticles allowed for effective treatment of lethally bleeding liver wounds. The photocrosslinked ELP provided a platform onto which hemostatic materials could be added to localize their activity in an environment that would otherwise wash them away, as well as synergistically improved the hemostatic potential of the system. Compared to fibrin-based hemostats (Gaharwar AK, et al, ACSNano 8, 9833-9842 (2014)), such ELP -based flexible hemostatic materials can be designed to control bleeding as well as promote wound healing on tissues and organs without confining natural tissue movement. Injectable ELP solutions containing hemostatic particles can be photocrosslinked at the site of bleeding, functioning as an effective hemostat material and a matrix for tissue regeneration. With these qualities, photocrosslinkable ELPs can be used in biomedical applications as a hemostatic material for soft and flexible tissues such as blood vessels, skin, lung, or cardiac tissue.

[00155] Polynucleotide and amino acid sequences for one embodiment of an ELP as described herein are set out below.

[00156] The complete nucleotide sequence of a completed ELP gene is as follows, with the cysteine containing sequence (KCTS) italicized and the ELP gene sequence in normal type:

GGATCC^4 4 JG7¾CC4 GCGCTAGCGGTCTCGTTGGTGTACCTGGTGTTGGCGTCCC

GGGTGTAGGTATCCCAGGCGTTGGTGTACCGGGTGTAGGCGTTCCAGGCGTTGGT

GTACCTGGTGTTGGCGTCCCGGGTGTAGGTATCCCAGGCGTTGGTGTACCGGGTG

TAGGCGTTCCAGGCGTTGGTGTACCTGGTGTTGGCGTCCCGGGTGTAGGTATCCC

AGGCGTTGGTGTACCGGGTGTAGGCGTTCCAGGCGTTGGTGTACCTGGTGTTGGC

GTCCCGGGTGTAGGTATCCCAGGCGTTGGTGTACCGGGTGTAGGCGTTCCAGGCG

TTGGTGTACCTGGTGTTGGCGTCCCGGGTGTAGGTATCCCAGGCGTTGGTGTACC

GGGTGTAGGCGTTCCAGGCGTTGGTGTACCTGGTGTTGGCGTCCCGGGTGTAGGT

ATCCCAGGCGTTGGTGTACCGGGTGTAGGCGTTCCAGGCGTTGGTGTACCTGGTG

TTGGCGTCCCGGGTGTAGGTATCCCAGGCGTTGGTGTACCGGGTGTAGGCGTTCC

AGGCGTTGGTGTACCTGGTGTTGGCGTCCCGGGTGTAGGTATCCCAGGCGTTGGTG

TACCGGGTGTAGGCGTTCCAGGCGTTGGTGTACCTGGTGTTGGCGTCCCGGGTG

TAGGTATCCCAGGCGTTGGTGTACCGGGTGTAGGCGTTCCAGGCGTTGGTGTACC

TGGTGTTGGCGTCCCGGGTGTAGGTATCCCAGGCGTTGGTGTACCGGGTGTAGGC

GTTCCAGGCGTTGGTGTACCTGGTGTTGGCGTCCCGGGTGTAGGTATCCCAGGCG

TTGGTGTACCGGGTGTAGGCGTTCCAGGCGTTGGTGTACCTGGTGTTGGCGTCCC

GGGTGTAGGTATCCCAGGCGTTGGTGTACCGGGTGTAGGCGTTCCAGGCGTTGGT

GTACCTGGTGTTGGCGTCCCGGGTGTAGGTATCCCAGGCGTTGGTGTACCGGGTG

TAGGCGTTCCAGGCGTTGGTGTACCTGGTGTTGGCGTCCCGGGTGTAGGTATCCC

AGGCGTTGGTGTACCGGGTGTAGGCGTTCCAGGCGTTGGTGAGACCACTAGTTAA

ATGAAT ^ TGCACGTC ΓΓ 4 AAGCTT

[00157] The amino acid sequence of one embodiment of an ELP polypeptide as described herein is as follows:

MGWGSKCTSASGLVGVPGVGVPGVGIPGVGVPGVGVPGVGVPGVGVPGVGIPGVG

VPGVGVPGVGVPGVGVPGVGIPGVGVPGVGVPGVGVPGVGVPGVGIPGVGVPGVG

VPGVGVPGVGVPGVGIPGVGVPGVGVPGVGVPGVGVPGVGIPGVGVPGVGVPGVG

VPGVGVPGVGIPGVGVPGVGVPGVGVPGVGVPGVGIPGVGVPGVGVPGVGVPGVG

VPGVGIPGVGVPGVGVPGVGVPGVGVPGVGIPGVGVPGVGVPGVGVPGVGVPGVGI

PGVGVPGVGVPGVGVPGVGVPGVGIPGVGVPGVGVPGVGVPGVGVPGVGIPGVGVP

GVGVPGVGVPGVGVPGVGIPGVGVPGVGVPGVGETTSKCTS*