Home / Knowledge / News / Textiles / Native-like spider dragline silk from genetically engineered E. coli
Native-like spider dragline silk from genetically engineered E. coli
16
Aug '10
Researchers have long envied spiders' ability to manufacture silk that is light-weighted while as strong and tough as steel or Kevlar. Indeed, finer than human hair, five times stronger by weight than steel, and three times tougher than the top quality man-made fiber Kevlar, spider dragline silk is an ideal material for numerous applications.

Suggested industrial applications have ranged from parachute cords and protective clothing to composite materials in aircrafts. Also, many biomedical applications are envisioned due to its biocompatibility and biodegradability.

Unfortunately, natural dragline silk cannot be conveniently obtained by farming spiders because they are highly territorial and aggressive. To develop a more sustainable process, can scientists mass-produce artificial silk while maintaining the amazing properties of native silk? That is something Sang Yup Lee at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejeon, the Republic of Korea, and his collaborators, Professor Young Hwan Park at Seoul National University and Professor David Kaplan at Tufts University, wanted to figure out.

Their method is very similar to what spiders essentially do: first, expression of recombinant silk proteins; second, making the soluble silk proteins into water-insoluble fibers through spinning.

For the successful expression of high molecular weight spider silk protein, Professor Lee and his colleagues pieced together the silk gene from chemically synthesized oligonucleotides, and then inserted it into the expression host (in this case, an industrially safe bacterium Escherichia coli which is normally found in our gut).

Initially, the bacterium refused to the challenging task of producing high molecular weight spider silk protein due to the unique characteristics of the protein, such as extremely large size, repetitive nature of the protein structure, and biased abundance of a particular amino acid glycine.

“To make E. coli synthesize this ultra high molecular weight (as big as 285 kilodalton) spider silk protein having highly repetitive amino acid sequence, we helped E. coli overcome the difficulties by systems metabolic engineering,” says Sang Yup Lee, Distinguished Professor of KAIST, who led this project. His team boosted the pool of glycyl-tRNA, the major building block of spider silk protein synthesis. “We could obtain appreciable expression of the 285 kilodalton spider silk protein, which is the largest recombinant silk protein ever produced in E. coli. That was really incredible.” says Dr. Xia.

But this was only step one. The KAIST team performed high-cell-density cultures for mass production of the recombinant spider silk protein. Then, the team developed a simple, easy to scale-up purification process for the recombinant spider silk protein. The purified spider silk protein could be spun into beautiful silk fiber.

To study the mechanical properties of the artificial spider silk, the researchers determined tenacity, elongation, and Young's modulus, the three critical mechanical parameters that represent a fiber's strength, extensibility, and stiffness. Importantly, the artificial fiber displayed the tenacity, elongation, and Young's modulus of 508 MPa, 15%, and 21 GPa, respectively, which are comparable to those of the native spider silk.

“We have offered an overall platform for mass production of native-like spider dragline silk. This platform would enable us to have broader industrial and biomedical applications for spider silk. Moreover, many other silk-like biomaterials such as elastin, collagen, byssus, resilin, and other repetitive proteins have similar features to spider silk protein. Thus, our platform should also be useful for their efficient bio-based production and applications,” concludes Professor Lee.

In the mid-1960s, Korea began to develop and nurture light and heavy chemical industries, which was the origin of Korea's economic miracle. In order to transform the nation from a basically agrarian economic structure to a world leader in complex technology, Korea needed scientists and engineers in the chemical, electric, electronic and other industrial fields. To foster highly qualified scientists and engineers for Korea's industrialization, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) was established in Seoul, the capital of Korea, under a special law on February 16, 1971.

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)


Must ReadView All

Alliance to form joint entity for safety in factories

Textiles | On 24th Apr 2018

Alliance to form joint entity for safety in factories

On the 5th anniversary of the Rana Plaza Collapse, The Alliance for...

China’s Alibaba partners with Thailand for digital trade

Textiles | On 24th Apr 2018

China’s Alibaba partners with Thailand for digital trade

China’s Alibaba Group recently signed an agreement with the Thai...

ACFTA to benefit Egyptian RMG exports: trade body official

Apparel/Garments | On 24th Apr 2018

ACFTA to benefit Egyptian RMG exports: trade body official

Egypt’s readymade garment (RMG) sector’s exports to African countries ...

Interviews View All

Siddharth Biyani
Mangalam Industries Pvt Ltd

‘The manufacturing sector is improving day-by-day, becoming better in...

Top executives
Textile & apparel bodies

The mid-term review of FTP is progressive, growth oriented

Karel Williams
Dow Microbial Control

'Silvadur is most rapidly adopted in areas where hygiene-conscious and...

Vikas Banduke

Softech Controls Private Limited (SCPL) is a part of the Cotmac Group, an...

Erik Sy

Manila-based CustomThread is a start-up offering premium custom apparel...

Nitesh Mittal

Kusumgar Corporates is a leading manufacturer of technical textiles and...

Johan Berlin
InvestKonsult Sweden AB

Investkonsult Sweden AB has been buying and selling second-hand textile...

Urs Stalder
Sanitized AG

Urs Stalder, CEO, Sanitized AG, talks about the increasing use of hygiene...

Giorgio Mantovani
Corman S.p.A

Giorgio Mantovani, MD of Corman, with a presence in both Milano and New...

Robert Brunner
Devereux

Golfwear and menswear brand Devereux is set for greener pastures. Robert...

Wendell Rodricks
Wendell Rodricks

"We should not compare India and the West. There are things we do that...

Amiben Shroff
Shrujan

From its modest beginning in the late 1960s, Shrujan has grown into a...

Press Release

Press Release

Letter to Editor

Letter to Editor

RSS Feed

RSS Feed

Submit your press release on


editorial@fibre2fashion.com

Letter To Editor






(Max. 8000 char.)

Search Companies





SEARCH

Leave your Comments


April 2018

Subscribe today and get the latest update on Textiles, Fashion, Apparel and so on.

news category


Related Categories:

Planning to Take the Leap towards
Sustainability?

Do you see sustainability as a route to business growth?

Yes No

Do you think the sustainability space has the needed tools and resources available for a business to lead change?

Yes No

Active Poll

Do you see sustainability as a route to business growth?

Yes
69.9%
No
12.6%
Skip
17.5%

Total Votes: 103

Do you think adopting a sustainable approach will be a profitable move for your business?

Yes No

Active Poll

Do you think the sustainability space has the needed tools and resources available for a business to lead change?

Yes
63.1%
No
29.1%
Skip
7.8%

Total Votes: 103

Do you want the world to know about your sustainability journey and your business’ environmental footprint?

Yes No

Active Poll

Do you think adopting a sustainable approach will be a profitable move for your business?

Yes
87.4%
No
8.7%
Skip
3.9%

Total Votes: 103

Thanks for your valuable feedback. Claim your free latest sustainability e-book.

Active Poll

Do you want the world to know about your sustainability journey and your business’ environmental footprint?

Yes
82.5%
No
7.8%
Skip
9.7%

Total Votes: 103


E-News Insight
Subscribe Today and Get the
Latest News Update in Your Mail Box.
Advanced Search