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Enzymatic Activity Preservation through Entrapment within Degradable Hydrogel Networks
Mariani, Angela Marie
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This dissertation aimed to design and develop a "biogel;" a reproducible, abiotic, and biocompatible polymer hydrogel matrix, that prolongs enzymatic stability allowing for rapid production of biomolecules. The researched entrapment method preserves enzyme activity within an amicable environment while resisting activity reduction in the presence of increased pH environmental challenges. These biogels can be used in a number of applications including repeated production of small molecules and in biosensors. Five main objectives were accomplished: 1) Biogels capable of maintaining enzymatic functionality post-entrapment procedures were fabricated; 2) Biogel activity dependence on crosslinker type and crosslink density was determined; 3) Biogel composition effects on sustained activity after storage were compared; 4) Biogel activity dependence on charged monomer moieties was evaluated, and 5) Combined optimization knowledge gained from the first four objectives was utilized to determine the protection of enzymes within hydrogels when challenged with an increased pH above 8. Biogels were fabricated by entrapping beta-galactosidase (lactase) enzyme within acrylamide (ACR) gels crosslinked with poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA, degradable through hydrolysis) or N,N'-methylenebisacrylamide (BIS, non-degradable). Initial hydrogel entrapment reduced activity to 40% in ACR/PEGDA gels, compared to a 75% reduction in initial activity of ACR/BIS biogels. Once entrapped, these enzymes resist activity reduction in the presence of environmental challenges, such as altering the pH from 7 to above 8. When biogels were challenged at a pH of 8, activity retention positively correlated to PEGDA crosslinker density; increasing from 48% to 91% retention in 30 to 40 mole % PEGDA biogels as compared to solution based control which retained only 23%. Retention of activity when perturbed from pH 7 is advantageous for biogel applications including the repeated production of desired small molecules and biosensors. Biogels with positive or negative monomer moiety functionalities were also investigated to increase enzyme-matrix interactions and enzyme stability. The researched entrapment method illustrates the potential to sterically hinder and diffusively impede enzymes from performing their function, potentially enabling the reactivation of the enzyme at a site and time dictated by the user by degrading the crosslinks of the network.