Menu

Spinning Recombinant Spider Silk

Scientists engineer E. coli to produce artificial spider silk.

Mar 6, 2015
Jenny Rood

FLICKR, MICHAEL ZIMMER

Researchers have produced the first recombinant spider silk that mimics the toughness of the natural material, according to a study published last month (February 16) in Advanced Materials. The key to their success was including domains of the silk protein that help silk strands form properly.

Scientists from the University of Bayreuth in Germany expressed variants of one of three spider silk proteins from the European garden spider (Araneus diadematus) in E. coli. Previous studies only used versions of the protein containing the two central domains, which create a tough crystal-like structure nestled inside a stretchy gel-like material, but the Bayreuth team included two domains that naturally occur at the ends of the protein. “They do not contribute to the final structure and performance, but we found they are actually important in getting the molecules aligned,” study coauthor Thomas Scheibel told New Scientist.

After the bacteria produced the protein, the researchers allowed the silk to self-assemble in a bath of water and alcohol before stretching the fibers to six times their original length. This process of “wet spinning” mimics a spider drawing the silk out of its body with its hind legs, which improves the alignment of the proteins as well as the fiber’s toughness. The researchers found the recombinant fibers were more elastic but weaker than real silk. However, because toughness is a combination of elasticity and strength, the artificial fibers were deemed as tough as the natural product. If the process could be scaled up, it might be useful for creating airbags with higher elasticity, Scheibel told New Scientist.

 

September 2018

The Muscle Issue

The dynamic tissue reveals its secrets

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

StemExpress LeukopakâNow Available in Frozen Format

StemExpress LeukopakâNow Available in Frozen Format

StemExpress, a Folsom, California based leading supplier of human biospecimens, announces the release of frozen Peripheral Blood Leukopaks. Leukopaks provide an enriched source of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) with low granulocyte and red blood cells that can be used in a variety of downstream cell-based applications.

New Antifade Mounting Media from Vector Laboratories Enhances Immunofluorescence Applications

New Antifade Mounting Media from Vector Laboratories Enhances Immunofluorescence Applications

Vector Laboratories, a leader in the development and manufacture of labeling and detection reagents for biomedical research, introduces VECTASHIELD® Vibrance™ – antifade mounting media that delivers significant improvements to the immunofluorescence workflow.

Best Practices for Sample Preparation and Lipid Extraction from Various Samples

Best Practices for Sample Preparation and Lipid Extraction from Various Samples

Download this white paper from Bertin Technologies to learn how to extract and analyze lipid samples from various models!

Bio-Rad Launches CHT Ceramic Hydroxyapatite XT Media and Nuvia HP-Q Resin for Process Protein Purification

Bio-Rad Launches CHT Ceramic Hydroxyapatite XT Media and Nuvia HP-Q Resin for Process Protein Purification

Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: BIO and BIOb), a global leader of life science research and clinical diagnostic products, today announced the launch of two new chromatography media for process protein purification: CHT Ceramic Hydroxyapatite XT Media and Nuvia HP-Q Resin.