CRISPR/Cas9 Initiated Transgenic Silkworms as a Natural Spinner of Spider Silk
American Chemical Society
Using transgenic silkworms with their natural spinning apparatus has proven to be a promising way to spin spider silk-like fibers. The challenges are incorporating native-size spider silk proteins and achieving an inheritable transgenic silkworm strain. In this study, a CRISPR/Cas9 initiated fixed-point strategy was used to successfully incorporate spider silk protein genes into the Bombyx mori genome. Native-size spider silk genes (up to 10 kb) were inserted into an intron of the fibroin heavy or light chain (FibH or FibL) ensuring that any sequence changes induced by the CRISPR/Cas9 would not impact protein production. The resulting fibers are as strong as native spider silks (1.2 GPa tensile strength). The transgenic silkworms have been tracked for several generations with normal inheritance of the transgenes. This strategy demonstrates the feasibility of using silkworms as a natural spider silk spinner for industrial production of high-performance fibers.
(2019) Xiaoli Zhang, Lijin Xia, Breton A. Day, I. Harris, Paula Oliveira, Chelsea Knittel, Ana Laura Licon, Chengliang Gong, Geneviève Dion, Randolph V. Lewis, and Justin A. Jones.CRISPR/Cas9 Initiated Transgenic Silkworms as a Natural Spinner of Spider Silk Biomacromolecules 2019, 20, 6, 2252-2264