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Date of Award

2005

Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Department

Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Craig A. Vierra

First Committee Member

Joan Lin-Cereghino

Second Committee Member

Lisa A. Wrischnik

Abstract

eDNA microarray technology has generated a tremendous amount of interest among biologists because of its promise to monitor the entire genome on a single chip, thus enabling researchers to have a better picture of the interaction among thousands of genes simultaneously. In the current study, this technology was used to print over 3,000 unknown genes from various silk glands of the black widow spider to profile their expression patterns and to identify novel candidates. Spiders are remarkable creatures because of their ability to make different silks, each with a specific function. Some of these silks have amazing mechanical properties, comparable to those of the finest synthetic materials. Several silk genes have been cloned from various spiders over the last few years, and the contribution of each of those genes in silk production has been identified. However, the majority of cellular and biochemical processes involved in silk

manufacture remain a mystery. In our research, we attempt to identify genes that might be involved in silk assembly, on a global scale and investigate more about those genes and their interplay with other key biological molecules involved in silk manufacture. Our study showed that silking spiders for a certain period of time resulted in down-regulation of two important silk genes, ECP-1 and ECP-2. Both these genes are key molecules implicated for their role in maintaining the egg case architecture in the black widow spider.,-and we believe that these genes are also directly or indirectly involved in the manufacture of dragline silk. Microarray analyses also enable the discovery of several other interesting molecules, two of which could be accessory proteins involved in silk formation. Furthermore, in a separate study we also characterized a novel silk glue protein with unique ensemble repeats. In conclusion, we believe that the findings of this study will indeed be significant to silk researchers and material scientists alike and it will enhance our knowledge in understanding the mystery behind silk production.

Pages

215

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