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PLoS One. 2007 Oct 3;2(10):e998.

Composition and hierarchical organisation of a spider silk.

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  • 1Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.


Albeit silks are fairly well understood on a molecular level, their hierarchical organisation and the full complexity of constituents in the spun fibre remain poorly defined. Here we link morphological defined structural elements in dragline silk of Nephila clavipes to their biochemical composition and physicochemical properties. Five layers of different make-ups could be distinguished. Of these only the two core layers contained the known silk proteins, but all can vitally contribute to the mechanical performance or properties of the silk fibre. Understanding the composite nature of silk and its supra-molecular organisation will open avenues in the production of high performance fibres based on artificially spun silk material.

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