Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Biological and Irrigation Engineering


Elizabeth Vargis


Justin Jones

Third Advisor:

David Britt


Cells are traditionally grown on a flat, plastic surface that has been optimized for cell attachment. While this is appropriate for growing and maintaining cells, this two-dimensional cell culture model is not an adequate representation of a three-dimensional body. Creating three-dimensional lab models is an important step to model diseases and damage to the skeletal muscle system.

To create this three-dimensional environment, a plastic frame was designed to support silkworm fibers. Skeletal muscle cells were then grown along the silkworm fibers and the growth of these cells in a three-dimensional environment was compared to cells grown on a flat, two-dimensional polystyrene surface. Gene expression and protein synthesis were used as metrics to determine if muscle cells had developed into muscle fibers and if the necessary proteins were in place for muscle contraction.

Key genetic markers for muscle fiber development were comparable between the silk substrates and the polystyrene surface but contractile protein gene expression was significantly higher on the silk substrates. This three-dimensional model of skeletal muscle tissue can provide valuable insight for cellular analysis in a lab setting.



Available for download on Friday, August 01, 2025