Recombinant protein polymers, evaluated exten-sively as biomaterials for applications in drug delivery and tissue engineering, are rarely reported as being optically transparent. Here we report the notable optical transparency of films composed of a genetically engineered silk-elastinlike protein polymer SELP-47K. SELP-47K films of 100 μm in thickness display a transmittance of 93% in the wavelength range of 350-800 nm. While covalent cross-linking of SELP-47K via glutaraldehyde decreases its transmittance to 77% at the wavelength of 800 nm, noncovalent cross-linking using methanol slightly increases it to 95%. Non- and covalent cross-linking of SELP-47K films also influences their secondary structures and water contents. Cell viability and proliferation analyses further reveal the excellent cytocompatibility of both non- and covalently cross-linked SELP-47K films. The combination of high optical transparency and cytocompatibility of SELP-47K films, together with their previously reported outstanding mechanical properties, suggests that this protein polymer may be useful in unique, new biomedical applications.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry