Elucidating the Molecular Structure and Dynamics in Spider Silks and Related Protein-Based BioPolymers

Spring 2017
Jeff Yarger
Arizona State University
Wed, 2017-02-08
487 GWC
Robert Ros


Spiders have evolved over the past 400 million years to produce up numerous types of silk that have extraordinary mechanical properties exceeding most other natural and synthetic fibers. Spider silk is composed almost entirely of protein and typically contains two proteins. Thus, spider silks can be referred to as one of nature's first copolymers. The origin of the silk’s impressive mechanical properties lies in the molecular structure, dynamics and organization of the two proteins that make up the silk: e.g., in the case of dragline silk, major ampullate spidroin 1 (MaSp 1) and major ampullate spidroin 2 (MaSp2). Our research group has made considerable strides in isotopically (2H/15N/13C) enriching a variety of silk fibers from a number of spider species enabling multi-nuclear, multi-dimensional solid-state NMR studies.  Using advanced magnetic resonance and x-ray diffraction methods, we are able to get a detailed understanding of the molecular protein structure and dynamics of spider silks.   This presentation will provide the groups most recent advances into the structure and dynamics of spider silk as well as another animal silks such as embiids and caddisflies.





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