• assembly;
  • biomimetics;
  • cell adhesion;
  • hydrogels;
  • nanocrystals


Mechanical mismatch and the lack of interactions between implants and the natural tissue environment are major drawbacks in bone tissue engineering. Biomaterials mimicking the self-assembly process and the composition of the bone matrix should provide new routes for fabricating biomaterials possessing novel osteoconductive and osteoinductive properties for bone repair. In the present study, bioinspired strategies are employed to design de novo self-assembled chimeric protein hydrogels comprising leucine zipper motifs flanking a dentin matrix protein 1 domain, which is characterized as a mineralization nucleator. Results show that this chimeric protein could function as a hydroxyapatite nucleator in pseudo-physiological buffer with the formation of highly oriented apatites similar to biogenic bone mineral. It could also function as an inductive substrate for osteoblast adhesion, promote cell surface integrin presentation and clustering, and modulate the formation of focal contacts. Such biomimetic “bottom-up” construction with dual osteoconductive and osteoinductive properties should open new avenues for bone tissue engineering.