• biomaterials;
  • extracellular matrix;
  • fusion protein;
  • growth factor;
  • tissue engineering


Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

It is advantageous to use biomaterials in tissue engineering that stimulate extracellular matrix (ECM) production by the cellular component. Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) stimulates type I collagen (COL1A1) transcription, but is functionally limited as a free molecule. Using a matrix-binding domain (MBD) from microfibril-associated glycoprotein-1, the fusion protein MBD–CTGF was targeted to the ECM and tested for COL1A1 transcriptional activation. MBD–CTGF produced by the ECM-synthesizing fibroblasts, or provided exogenously, localized to the elastic fiber ECM. MBD–CTGF, but not CTGF alone, led to a two-fold enhancement of COL1A1 expression. This study introduces a targeting technology that can be used to elevate collagen transcription in engineered tissues and thereby improve tissue mechanics.