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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2006 Sep;63(17):1986-99.

Molecular mechanisms of spider silk.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of the Pacific, Stockton, California 95211, USA.

Abstract

Spiders spin high-performance silks through the expression and assembly of tissue-restricted fibroin proteins. Spider silks are composite protein biopolymers that have complex microstructures. Retrieval of cDNAs and genomic DNAs encoding silk fibroins has revealed an association between the protein sequences and structure-property relationships. However, before spider silks can be subject to genetic engineering for commercial applications, the complete protein sequences and their functions, as well as the details of the spinning mechanism, will require additional progress and collaborative efforts in the areas of biochemistry, molecular biology and material science. Novel approaches to reveal additional molecular constituents embedded in the spider fibers, as well as cloning strategies to manipulate the genes for expression, will continue to be important aspects of spider biology research. Here we summarize the molecular characteristics of the different spider fibroins, the mechanical properties and assembly process of spidroins and the advances in protein expression systems used for recombinant silk production. We also highlight different technical approaches being used to elucidate the molecular constituents of silk fibers.

PMID:
16819558
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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