Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Craig Vierra

First Committee Member

Joseph Harrison

Second Committee Member

Douglas Weiser


Spider silk has extraordinary mechanical properties, displaying high tensile strength, elasticity, and toughness. Given the high performance of natural fibers, one of the long-term goals of the silk community is to manufacture large-scale synthetic spider silk. This process requires vast quantities of recombinant proteins for wet-spinning applications. Attempts to synthesize large amounts of native size recombinant spidroins in diverse cell types have been unsuccessful. In these studies, we design and express recombinant miniature black widow (Latrodectus hesperus) MaSp1 spidroins in bacteria that incorporate the NTD and CTD, along with varying numbers of codon-optimized internal block repeats. Following spidroin overexpression, we perform quantitative analysis of the bacterial proteome to identify proteins associated with spidroin synthesis. Nano-liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (nLC-MS/MS) reveals a list of molecular targets that are differentially expressed after enforced mini-spidroin production. This list included proteins involved in energy management, proteostasis, translation, cell wall biosynthesis and oxidative stress. Collectively, this study unveils new bacterial genes to target by genetic engineering to overcome bottlenecks that throttle spidroin overexpression in microorganisms.



Included in

Biology Commons



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