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J Biotechnol. 2000 Aug;74(2):95-103.

New silk protein: modification of silk protein by gene engineering for production of biomaterials.

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Kyoto Institute of Technology, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8585, Japan.


The interest in silk fibroin morphology and structure have increased due to its attractiveness for bio-related applications. Silk fibers have been used as sutures for a long time in the surgical field, due to the biocompatibility of silk fibroin fibers with human living tissue. In addition, it has been demonstrated that silk can be used as a substrate for enzyme immobilization in biosensors. A more complete understanding of silk structure would provide the possibility to further exploit silk fibroin for a wide range of new uses, such as the production of oxygen-permeable membranes and biocompatible materials. Silk fibroin-based membranes could be utilized as soft tissue compatible polymers. Baculovirus-mediated transgenesis of the silkworm allows specific alterations in a target sequence. Homologous recombination of a foreign gene downstream from a powerful promoter, such as the fibroin promoter, would allow the constitutive production of a useful protein in the silkworm and the modification of the character of silk protein. A chimeric protein consisted of fibroin and green fluorescent protein was expressed under the control of fibroin in the posterior silk gland and the gene product was spun into the cocoon layer. This technique, gene targeting, will lead to the modification and enhancement of physicochemical properties of silk protein.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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