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Advanced Healthcare Materials




Mechanical cues induce a variety of downstream effects on cells, including the regulation of stem cell behavior. Cell fate is typically characterized on biomaterial substrates where mechanical and chemical properties can be precisely tuned; however, most of these substrates do not recapitulate the biological complexity of the extracellular matrix (ECM). Here, hydrogels are engineered for mechanobiological studies using two major components of the ECM: hyaluronic acid (HA) and fibronectin (FN). Rather than typical surface chemisorption of FN to substrates, the system contains full-length FN covalently crosslinked to HA throughout the hydrogel. The control over the mechanical properties of the hydrogel independent of the concentration of FN and the ability to culture viable cells either on top or encapsulated within the hydrogels are shown. Interestingly, human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) experience an increase in nuclear translocation of the yes-associated protein (YAP) to the nucleus when cultured on (2D) substrates with increasing amounts of FN while maintaining constant hydrogel stiffness. However, this FN dependence on nuclear YAP translocation is not observed for MSCs encapsulated in (3D) hydrogels. This work develops complex hydrogels that recapitulate features of the ECM for the control of stem cells in both 2D and 3D environments.


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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.