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Date of Award

2008

Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Department

Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Craig Vierra

First Committee Member

Geoff Lin-Cereghino

Second Committee Member

Lisa Wrischnik

Abstract

Araneoid spiders use specialized sets of abdominal silk glands to produce up to seven different types of silks, each with diverse functional properties. At the time of these studies, fibroin eDNA sequences that encode egg case silk had not been reported in the literature. This study used conventional nucleic acid-nucleic acid screening of a eDNA library to isolate a novel gene, named tubuliform spidroin 1 , from the black widow spider Latrodectus hesperus. TuSp 1 was demonstrated to be selectively expressed in the tubuliform gland (the gland suspected for egg case silk production), and examination of the amino acid sequence revealed highly homogeneous repeats (184 amino acid ensemble repeats), a characteristic feature of fibroin sequences. Analyses of the ensemble repeats within the amino acid sequence of TuSp 1 revealed the lack of long stretches of polyalanine and glycine-alanine sub-repeats, which are commonly found in minor ampullate and major ampullate silks. Polyserine blocks and short polyalanine stretches were highly represented in the TuSp 1 amino acid sequence. Our data support the assertion that TuSp 1 represents the main constituent within egg case silk. This supposition is supported by the observation that the amino acid composition of raw egg case silk was strikingly similar to the amino acid composition predicted from the translated TuSp1 eDNA. Two additional constituents identified in black widow egg case, egg case protein 1 (ECP-1) and egg case protein 2 (ECP-2), were also partially characterized in this study. Using immunohistochemical approaches, we demonstrate that ECPs predominantly localize to the exterior of the large diameter fibers of egg cases. Additionally, these studies revealed smaller amounts of ECPs localized to the interior portion of the fibers. Collectively, these results support TuSp1 as the predominant fibroin within egg sacs as well as reveal a structural role for the ECPs, providing clues regarding the supramolecular structure of egg case fibers.

Pages

53

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