RNA extraction from self-assembling peptide hydrogels to allow qPCR analysis of encapsulated cells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • External authors:
  • Kyle Burgess
  • Mohamed Elsawy


Self-assembling peptide hydrogels offer a novel 3-dimensional platform for many applications in cell culture and tissue engineering but are not compatible with current methods of RNA isolation; owing to interactions between RNA and the biomaterial. This study investigates the use of two techniques based on two different basic extraction principles: solution-based extraction and direct solid-state binding of RNA respectively, to extract RNA from cells encapsulated in four β-sheet forming self-assembling peptide hydrogels with varying net positive charge. RNA-peptide fibril interactions, rather than RNA-peptide molecular complexing, were found to interfere with the extraction process resulting in low yields. A column-based approach relying on RNA-specific binding was shown to be more suited to extract RNA with higher purity from these peptide hydrogels due to its reliance on strong specific RNA binding interactions which compete directly with RNA-peptide fibril interactions. In order to reduce the amount of fibrils present and improve RNA yields a broad spectrum enzyme solution, pronase, was used to partially digest the hydrogels before RNA extraction. This pre-treatment was shown to significantly increase the yield of RNA extracted, allowing downstream RT-qPCR to be performed.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalPLoS ONE
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2018

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