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UCR biologists unravel the genetic secrets of black widow spider silk

silk fibers that have the same remarkable properties as spider spun silk. But several advances have recently been made in artificial spinning methods.

When spiders manufacture dragline silk, their silk glands produce a gooey slurry of the proteins needed, which are transported to the spinneret through a duct where the proteins interact and align to form the silk strands.

The production of artificial silk is not quite there yet, Hayashi said. Now, with the full length genes known and as we learn more about theses two proteins, hopefully we will have a better shot at mimicking nature.

Spider silks have some of the best mechanical properties of any known natural fibers, thus they are being considered in the improvement of a variety of products including surgical microsutures and specialty ropes. Dragline silk just one type of the seven different silks that an individual spider produces are used by spiders as the structural foundation of their webs and to support their body weight as they move about. The dragline silk of black widows is one of the strongest and toughest spider silks identified thus far.


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Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
12-Jun-2007


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