Nephila Clavipes Dragline Silk: Approaches to a Recombinantly Produced Silk Protein

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 1993



Publication Title

MRS Proceedings, 1993 MRS Fall Meeting - Symposium S – Biomolecular Materials by Design


spiders, spider silk, silk proteins, DNA, Spidroin, Fibroin, Repetitive protein, Nephila clavipes, Recombinant DNA, Spider webs, Aranea


Spider silks exhibit an unusual combination of strength and toughness that distinguishes them from other natural and synthetic fibers. Silk proteins perform a key natural function as structural fibers, to absorb impact energy from flying insects without breaking. They dissipate energy over a broad area and balance stiffness, strength and extensibility. In addition to their unusual mechanical properties and visual lustre, silks also exhibit interesting interference patterns within the electromagnetic spectrum, unusual viscometric patterns related to processing, and piezoelectric properties. These properties suggest they would be good candidates for high performance fiber and composite applications. However, the spider is not capable of producing sufficient quantities of proteins to enable thorough evaluation of their potential. Consequently, we are pursuing recombinant DNA techniques to clone and express adequate quantities of recombinant spider silk for these studies.


Copyright 1993, Cambridge University Press. The original publication is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1557/PROC-330-37

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