Yuan Yuan

Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Piyush Koria, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert Frisina, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mark Jaroszeski, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Nathan Gallant, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Martin Muschol, Ph.D.


Elastin Like Peptides, Fibroblasts, Wound Healing, Heparan Sulfate Proteoglycan, Multifunctional Nanoparticles


Elastin-like peptides (ELPs) are stimulus-responsive protein-based polymers which are attractive material for biomedical research due to their biocompatibility and unique properties. The physical properties of ELPs are dependent on the chain length and the chosen amino acid at the guest residue position. This imparts unlimited flexibility in designing ELP based biomaterials with the desired physical properties.

We have shown that in addition to their physical properties, ELPs have biological activities that are conducive to tissue regeneration. Specifically, we found that ELPs induce fibroblast proliferation via cell surface heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPG). Furthermore, our data suggests that ELP based materials with differential proliferative potential can be designed by controlling the interaction of ELPs with HSPGs by incorporating either hydrophobic or positively charged residues within the ELP sequence. Fibroblast proliferation is important for granulation tissue formation which is important in chronic wounds as well as in healing of other tissues. The customizable biological activity of ELPs coupled with their unique physical properties will enable us to design novel, sustainable and cost effective therapies for different tissue regeneration applications.

ELPs can be genetically fused to biologically active peptides or proteins. These fusions can be expressed and readily purified since they maintain the phase transitioning property of the fused ELP domain. Moreover, depending on the ELP sequence chosen the chimeric fusion sequences can self-assemble into unique structures such as nanoparticles. These structures can then be applied to the injury site where they not only provide unique topographical cues or structural support but also act as delivery vehicles for the fused bioactive protein. We developed a multifunctional nanoparticle that is comprised of PMP-D2-ELP fusion protein and different functional peptide ELP fusion proteins to preserve the bioactivity of the functional group with the existence of elastase. These heterogeneous particles will be beneficial for the delivery of combination therapies to solve multiple problems that often existed in chronic wound healing or other tissue regeneration process.

In summary, this study adds to our understanding of the biological activity of ELP and the interaction mechanism that allow the regulation of cellular behavior. Furthermore this work also investigated the potential therapeutic application of ELP as a delivery platform for chronic wound healing.