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Biomacromolecules. 2008 Jan;9(1):116-21. Epub 2007 Dec 4.

Proline and processing of spider silks.

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Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PS, United Kingdom.


Major ampullate (MAA) silks from a variety of spider species were collected by artificial silking that adjusted the samples to have similar breaking strains. Those silks are highly comparable in post-yield mechanical properties, but their supercontraction behaviors and initial moduli vary in large ranges and both correlate with the content of one amino acid, proline. These relationships, in combination with protein sequence data, support the hypothesis that the proline-related motif, that is, GPGXX, may play a key role in silk. This also explains the interspecific variability of spider dragline silk. Moreover, MAA silks from three representative species were prepared in a range of processing conditions and their mechanical properties were compared. Our results indicate how chemical compositions, coupled with processing conditions, shape the mechanical properties of the spider silk.

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