DNA Crosslinked Mucin Hydrogels Allow for On-Demand Gel Disintegration and Triggered Particle Release

Manuel Henkel, Ceren Kimna, Oliver Lieleg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Whereas hydrogels created from synthetic polymers offer a high level of control over their stability and mechanical properties, their biomedical activity is typically limited. In contrast, biopolymers have evolved over billions of years to integrate a broad range of functionalities into a single design. Thus, biopolymeric hydrogels can show remarkable capabilities such as regulatory behavior, selective barrier properties, or antimicrobial effects. Still, despite their widespread use in numerous biomedical applications, achieving a meticulous control over the physical properties of macroscopic biopolymeric networks remains a challenge. Here, a macroscopic, DNA-crosslinked mucin hydrogel with tunable viscoelastic properties that responds to two types of triggers: temperature alterations and DNA displacement strands, is presented. As confirmed with bulk rheology and single particle tracking, the hybridized base pairs governing the stability of the hydrogel can be opened, thus allowing for a precise control over the hydrogel stiffness and even enabling a full gel-to-sol transition. As those DNA-crosslinked mucin hydrogels possess tunable mechanical properties and can be disintegrated on demand, they can not only be considered for controlled cargo release but may also serve as a role model for the development of smart biomedical materials in applications such as tissue engineering and wound healing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2300427
JournalMacromolecular Bioscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • biopolymer
  • glycoprotein
  • strand displacement
  • tunable stiffness


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