Piriform Silk Production


Jordan Ballam

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Journal/Book Title/Conference

USU Student Showcase

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Spider silk produced by Nephila clavipes has been shown to have surprisingly marketable properties. The silk has been experimentally proven to have twice the extensibility of nylon and a higher toughness than Kevlar. One form of spider silk that has remained relatively unstudied is Piriform silk, which originates from a small gland near the spinneret of the spider. Piriform silk is used by Nephila Clavipes as an adhesive to bind other fibers to an array of surfaces during web construction. Two structural motifs of the Piriform protein have been identified, and it is believed that one of the motifs contributes to the strength of the fiber. The second motif has an unknown function. We seek to experimentally express the Piriform protein in E. Coli in suitable abundance to be able to identify the function of the unknown motif as well as spin usable fibers. These fibers then will be further studied to identify Piriform silk's capabilities beyond a simple web adhesive.

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