Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • News & Views
  • Published:


Moving hydrogels to the fourth dimension

Materials that permit spatiotemporal control of biomolecule presentation have long been a challenge in the field. A method has now been developed to reversibly pattern cell-laden hydrogels with site-specifically immobilized proteins using sortase-mediated transpeptidation without compromising bioactivity.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Fig. 1: Photopatterning and photorelease of sortase-tag enhanced protein ligation (STEPL)-modified proteins in hydrogels.


  1. Burdick, J. A. & Murphy, W. L. Nat. Commun. 3, 1269 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Shadish, J. A., Benuska, G. M. & DeForest, C. A. Nat. Mater. (2019).

  3. Murphy, W. L., McDevitt, T. C. & Engler, A. J. Nat. Mater. 13, 547–557 (2014).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Lee, S., Moon, J. J. & West, J. L. Biomaterials 29, 2962–2968 (2008).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Yang, C., Tibbitt, M. W., Basta, L. & Anseth, K. S. Nat. Mater. 13, 645–652 (2014).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Wylie, R. G. et al. Nat. Mater. 10, 799–806 (2011).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. DeForest, C. A. & Tirrell, D. A. Nat Mater 14, 523–531 (2015).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Mao, H., Hart, S. A., Schink, A. & Pollok, B. A. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 126, 2670–2671 (2004).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Caliari, S. R. & Burdick, J. A. Nat. Methods 13, 405–414 (2016).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Loebel, C., Mauck, R. L. & Burdick, J. A. Nat. Mater. 18, 883–891 (2019).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jason A. Burdick.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Galarraga, J.H., Burdick, J.A. Moving hydrogels to the fourth dimension. Nat. Mater. 18, 914–915 (2019).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing