Preparation of DNA-crosslinked polyacrylamide hydrogels

Michelle L. Previtera, Noshir A. Langrana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Mechanobiology is an emerging scientific area that addresses the critical role of physical cues in directing cell morphology and function. For example, the effect of tissue elasticity on cell function is a major area of mechanobiology research because tissue stiffness modulates with disease, development, and injury. Static tissue-mimicking materials, or materials that cannot alter stiffness once cells are plated, are predominately used to investigate the effects of tissue stiffness on cell functions. While information gathered from static studies is valuable, these studies are not indicative of the dynamic nature of the cellular microenvironment in vivo. To better address the effects of dynamic stiffness on cell function, we developed a DNA-crosslinked polyacrylamide hydrogel system (DNA gels). Unlike other dynamic substrates, DNA gels have the ability to decrease or increase in stiffness after fabrication without stimuli. DNA gels consist of DNA crosslinks that are polymerized into a polyacrylamide backbone. Adding and removing crosslinks via delivery of single-stranded DNA allows temporal, spatial, and reversible control of gel elasticity. We have shown in previous reports that dynamic modulation of DNA gel elasticity influences fibroblast and neuron behavior. In this report and video, we provide a schematic that describes the DNA gel crosslinking mechanisms and step-by-step instructions on the preparation DNA gels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere51323
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number90
StatePublished - Aug 27 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


  • Bioengineering
  • Bioengineering (general)
  • Bis-acrylamide
  • Compliance
  • Dynamic
  • ECM
  • Elastic
  • Fibroblast
  • Issue 90
  • Mechanobiology
  • Neuron
  • Static
  • Stiffness
  • Substrate
  • Tunable
  • Viscoelastic


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