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Biomacromolecules. 2007 Apr;8(4):1200-8. Epub 2007 Mar 6.

Chemical and physical properties of sulfated silk fabrics.

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  • 1Centro di Studio sulla Spettroscopia Raman, Dipartimento di Biochimica G. Moruzzi, Universit√† di Bologna, via Belmeloro 8/2, Bologna 40126, Italy.


Silk fabrics were treated with chlorosulphonic acid in pyridine for different times. The amount of sulfur bound to silk increased during the first 2 h of reaction and then reached a plateau. The amino acidic pattern of sulfated silk remained essentially unchanged for short reaction times (< or =2 h). Longer reaction times resulted in drastic changes in the concentration of Asp, Glu, and Tyr. Surface morphology and texture of silk fabrics changed upon sulfation. Warp and weft yarns became progressively thinner, and deposits of foreign material appeared on the fiber surface. Changes were more evident at longer reaction times (> or =2 h). Spectroscopic analyses performed by FT-IR and FT-Raman showed the appearance of new bands attributable to various vibrations of sulfated groups. The IR bands at 1049 and 1014 cm-1, due to organic sulfate salts, were particularly intense. Bands assigned to alkyl sulfates and sulfonamides appeared in the 1300-1180 cm-1 range. Organic covalent sulfates displayed a weak but distinct IR band at 1385 cm-1. Both IR and Raman spectra revealed that silk fibroin mainly bound sulfates through the hydroxyl groups of Ser and Tyr, while involvement of amines could not be proved. Changes observed in the amide I and II range indicated an increase of the degree of molecular disorder of sulfated silk. Accordingly, the I850/I830 intensity ratio between the two Tyr bands at 850-830 cm-1 increased from 1.41 to 1.52, indicating a more exposed state of Tyr residues in sulfated silk. TGA, DSC, and TG analyses showed that sulfated silk attained a higher thermal stability. A thermal transition attributable to sulfated silk fibroin fractions appeared at about 260 degrees C in the DSC thermograms.

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