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Methods Mol Biol. 2013;996:43-59. doi: 10.1007/978-1-62703-354-1_3.

Aqueous-based spinning of fibers from self-assembling structural proteins.

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  • 1U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development & Engineering Center, Natick, MA, USA.


There has been long-standing interest in generating fibers from structural proteins and a great deal of work has been done in attempting to mimic dragline spider silk. Dragline silk balances stiffness, strength, extensibility, and high energy to break. Mimicking these properties through aqueous-based spinning of recombinant silk protein is a significant challenge; however, an approach has been developed that facilitates the formation of fibers approaching the mechanical properties seen with natural dragline silk. Due to the multitude of solution, spinning and post-spinning variables one has to consider, the method entails a multivariate approach to protein solution processing and fiber spinning. Optimization to maximize mechanical integrity of the fibers is performed by correlating the solution and spinning variables to mechanical properties and using this information for subsequent fiber spinning studies. Here, the method is described in detail and emphasizes the lessons learned during the iterative variable analysis process, which can be used as a basis for aqueous-based fiber spinning of other structural proteins.

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