Title

Identification of a New Wrapping Silk Protein from the Black Widow Spider, Latrodectus hesperus

Poster Number

15

Format

Poster Presentation

Abstract/Artist Statement

Spider silks are beginning to be extensively studied for their commercial uses due to their notably high tensile strength, extensibility and toughness. Mechanical studies have demonstrated that spider silks are 5 times stronger than steel. Using spider silk for other applications is being considered as well, such as their use for making artificial tendons and ligaments. In addition, they are currently be considered for use as materials for surgical threads, bandages, textiles, nets, parachutes, seat belts, air bags, ropes and sporting goods. In our studies, a cDNA library prepared from the silk producing glands of the black widow spider, Latrodectus hesperus, was screened to identify new silk genes. For our approach, we randomly selected twenty-five plaques from our cDNA library, amplified these plaques, and then excised their viral chromosomes using helper viruses to release the plasmids and their corresponding cDNAs from the viral chromosome. Following plasmid DNA retrieval, we performed restriction digestion analysis and examined the products using agarose gel electrophoresis to determine whether the vectors carried cDNA inserts. After validating the plasmids carried cDNA inserts, we performed DNA sequencing and then analyzed the retrieved spider gene sequences using bioinformatics. Our results revealed that one particular clone from our cDNA library screen encoded for a protein found in wrapping silk. Translation of our retrieved cDNA revealed it was rich in glycine and alanine, but surprisingly it didn’’t share some of the distinct features of the traditional silk family members. Collectively, these results indicate that wrapping silk likely contains non-traditional silk proteins.

Location

DeRosa University Center, Ballroom B

Start Date

2-5-2009 1:00 PM

End Date

2-5-2009 3:00 PM

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May 2nd, 1:00 PM May 2nd, 3:00 PM

Identification of a New Wrapping Silk Protein from the Black Widow Spider, Latrodectus hesperus

DeRosa University Center, Ballroom B

Spider silks are beginning to be extensively studied for their commercial uses due to their notably high tensile strength, extensibility and toughness. Mechanical studies have demonstrated that spider silks are 5 times stronger than steel. Using spider silk for other applications is being considered as well, such as their use for making artificial tendons and ligaments. In addition, they are currently be considered for use as materials for surgical threads, bandages, textiles, nets, parachutes, seat belts, air bags, ropes and sporting goods. In our studies, a cDNA library prepared from the silk producing glands of the black widow spider, Latrodectus hesperus, was screened to identify new silk genes. For our approach, we randomly selected twenty-five plaques from our cDNA library, amplified these plaques, and then excised their viral chromosomes using helper viruses to release the plasmids and their corresponding cDNAs from the viral chromosome. Following plasmid DNA retrieval, we performed restriction digestion analysis and examined the products using agarose gel electrophoresis to determine whether the vectors carried cDNA inserts. After validating the plasmids carried cDNA inserts, we performed DNA sequencing and then analyzed the retrieved spider gene sequences using bioinformatics. Our results revealed that one particular clone from our cDNA library screen encoded for a protein found in wrapping silk. Translation of our retrieved cDNA revealed it was rich in glycine and alanine, but surprisingly it didn’’t share some of the distinct features of the traditional silk family members. Collectively, these results indicate that wrapping silk likely contains non-traditional silk proteins.