Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors
Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Unraveling the mystery of how black widow spiders create steel-strength silk webs: ‘Modified micelle theory’ may allow scientists to create equally strong synthetic materials

Utilizing state-of-the-art techniques — nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, the same technology utilized in MRI, at SDSU, followed by electron microscopy at Northwestern — the research team was able to more closely see inside the protein gland where the silk fibers originate, revealing a much more complex, hierarchical protein assembly. (Photo credit: SDSU)
Utilizing state-of-the-art techniques — nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, the same technology utilized in MRI, at SDSU, followed by electron microscopy at Northwestern — the research team was able to more closely see inside the protein gland where the silk fibers originate, revealing a much more complex, hierarchical protein assembly. (Photo credit: SDSU)

Abstract:
Researchers at Northwestern University and San Diego State University (SDSU) have better unraveled the complex process of how black widow spiders transform proteins into steel-strength fibers. This knowledge promises to aid scientists in creating equally strong synthetic materials.

Unraveling the mystery of how black widow spiders create steel-strength silk webs: ‘Modified micelle theory’ may allow scientists to create equally strong synthetic materials

Evanston, IL | Posted on October 23rd, 2018

Black widow spiders and their relatives, native to temperate climates in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and South America, produce an array of silks with exceptional materials properties.


Scientists have long known the primary sequence of amino acids that make up some spider silk proteins and understood the structure of the fibers and webs. Previous research theorized that spider silk proteins await the spinning process as nano-size amphiphilic spherical micelles (clusters of water soluble and non-soluble molecules) before being funneled through the spider’s spinning apparatus to form silk fibers. However, when scientists attempted to replicate this process, they were unable to create synthetic materials with the strengths and properties of native spider silk fibers.



“The knowledge gap was literally in the middle,” Northwestern’s Nathan C. Gianneschi said. “What we didn’t understand completely is what goes on at the nanoscale in the silk glands or the spinning duct — the storage, transformation and transportation process involved in proteins becoming fibers.”



Gianneschi is the Jacob and Rosaline Cohn Professor in the department of chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and in the departments of materials science and engineering and of biomedical engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering. He and Gregory P. Holland, associate professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry at SDSU and the author of more than 40 papers on spider silk, are the paper’s co-corresponding authors.



The research was published online on Oct. 22 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).



Utilizing complementary, state-of-the-art techniques — nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, the same technology utilized in MRI, at SDSU, followed by electron microscopy at Northwestern — the research team was able to more closely see inside the protein gland where the silk fibers originate, revealing a much more complex, hierarchical protein assembly.



This “modified micelles theory” concludes that spider silk proteins do not start out as simple spherical micelles, as previously thought, but instead as complex, compound micelles. This unique structure is potentially required to create the black widow spider’s impressive fibers.



“We now know that black widow spider silks are spun from hierarchical nano-assemblies (200 to 500 nanometers in diameter) of proteins stored in the spider’s abdomen, rather than from a random solution of individual proteins or from simple spherical particles,” Holland said.



If duplicated, “the practical applications for a material like this are essentially limitless,” Holland said, and could include high-performance textiles for military, first responders and athletes; building materials for cable bridges and other construction; environmentally friendly replacements for plastics; and biomedical applications.



“One cannot overstate the potential impact on materials and engineering if we can synthetically replicate this natural process to produce artificial fibers at scale,” said Gianneschi, who also is the associate director of the International Institute for Nanotechnology and a member of the Simpson Querrey Institute and the Chemistry of Life Processes Institute at Northwestern. “Simply put, it would be transformative.”

The study was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Defense through the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Army Research Office (ARO).

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Amanda Morris
847-467-6790


Source contacts:
Nathan Gianneschi


and Gregory P. Holland

Copyright © Northwestern University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

The PNAS paper is titled “Hierarchical Spidroin Micellar Nanoparticles as the Fundamental Precursors of Spider Silks.” The lead authors are Lucas Parent of Northwestern and David Onofrei of SDSU:

Related News Press

News and information

uSEE breakthrough unlocks the nanoscale world on standard biology lab equipment August 16th, 2019

Optofluidic chip with nanopore 'smart gate' developed for single molecule analysis: Programmable device enables on-demand delivery of individual biomolecules with feedback-controlled gating for high-throughput analysis August 16th, 2019

ULVAC Launches Revolutionary PZT Piezoelectric Thin-film Process Technology and HVM Solution for MEMS Sensors/Actuators: Enabling Reliable, High-quality Film Production for Next Generation Devices August 16th, 2019

RIT to upgrade Semiconductor and Microsystems Fabrication Laboratory through $1 million state grant: Upgrades to clean room will enhance university’s research capabilities in photonics, quantum technologies and smart systems August 16th, 2019

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

uSEE breakthrough unlocks the nanoscale world on standard biology lab equipment August 16th, 2019

Optofluidic chip with nanopore 'smart gate' developed for single molecule analysis: Programmable device enables on-demand delivery of individual biomolecules with feedback-controlled gating for high-throughput analysis August 16th, 2019

Damaged hearts rewired with nanotube fibers: Texas Heart doctors confirm Rice-made, conductive carbon threads are electrical bridges August 14th, 2019

You're not so tough, h-BN: Rice University chemists find new path to make strong 2D material better for applications August 14th, 2019

Possible Futures

uSEE breakthrough unlocks the nanoscale world on standard biology lab equipment August 16th, 2019

ULVAC Launches Revolutionary PZT Piezoelectric Thin-film Process Technology and HVM Solution for MEMS Sensors/Actuators: Enabling Reliable, High-quality Film Production for Next Generation Devices August 16th, 2019

RIT to upgrade Semiconductor and Microsystems Fabrication Laboratory through $1 million state grant: Upgrades to clean room will enhance university’s research capabilities in photonics, quantum technologies and smart systems August 16th, 2019

Probing the Origin of Alzheimer’s . . . with Transistors: Novel high-sensitivity detector could aid in early diagnosis August 15th, 2019

Nanomedicine

uSEE breakthrough unlocks the nanoscale world on standard biology lab equipment August 16th, 2019

Optofluidic chip with nanopore 'smart gate' developed for single molecule analysis: Programmable device enables on-demand delivery of individual biomolecules with feedback-controlled gating for high-throughput analysis August 16th, 2019

RIT to upgrade Semiconductor and Microsystems Fabrication Laboratory through $1 million state grant: Upgrades to clean room will enhance university’s research capabilities in photonics, quantum technologies and smart systems August 16th, 2019

Probing the Origin of Alzheimer’s . . . with Transistors: Novel high-sensitivity detector could aid in early diagnosis August 15th, 2019

Discoveries

uSEE breakthrough unlocks the nanoscale world on standard biology lab equipment August 16th, 2019

Optofluidic chip with nanopore 'smart gate' developed for single molecule analysis: Programmable device enables on-demand delivery of individual biomolecules with feedback-controlled gating for high-throughput analysis August 16th, 2019

Probing the Origin of Alzheimer’s . . . with Transistors: Novel high-sensitivity detector could aid in early diagnosis August 15th, 2019

Damaged hearts rewired with nanotube fibers: Texas Heart doctors confirm Rice-made, conductive carbon threads are electrical bridges August 14th, 2019

Materials/Metamaterials

You're not so tough, h-BN: Rice University chemists find new path to make strong 2D material better for applications August 14th, 2019

A modified device fabrication process achieves enhanced spin transport in graphene August 6th, 2019

Rice lab produces simple fluorescent surfactants: Compounds show promise for use in medicine, manufacturing August 5th, 2019

Wood You Like Some Fresh Water? New treatment for wood makes a membrane to extract fresh water August 5th, 2019

Announcements

uSEE breakthrough unlocks the nanoscale world on standard biology lab equipment August 16th, 2019

Optofluidic chip with nanopore 'smart gate' developed for single molecule analysis: Programmable device enables on-demand delivery of individual biomolecules with feedback-controlled gating for high-throughput analysis August 16th, 2019

ULVAC Launches Revolutionary PZT Piezoelectric Thin-film Process Technology and HVM Solution for MEMS Sensors/Actuators: Enabling Reliable, High-quality Film Production for Next Generation Devices August 16th, 2019

RIT to upgrade Semiconductor and Microsystems Fabrication Laboratory through $1 million state grant: Upgrades to clean room will enhance university’s research capabilities in photonics, quantum technologies and smart systems August 16th, 2019

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

uSEE breakthrough unlocks the nanoscale world on standard biology lab equipment August 16th, 2019

Optofluidic chip with nanopore 'smart gate' developed for single molecule analysis: Programmable device enables on-demand delivery of individual biomolecules with feedback-controlled gating for high-throughput analysis August 16th, 2019

Probing the Origin of Alzheimer’s . . . with Transistors: Novel high-sensitivity detector could aid in early diagnosis August 15th, 2019

Damaged hearts rewired with nanotube fibers: Texas Heart doctors confirm Rice-made, conductive carbon threads are electrical bridges August 14th, 2019

Military

Damaged hearts rewired with nanotube fibers: Texas Heart doctors confirm Rice-made, conductive carbon threads are electrical bridges August 14th, 2019

You're not so tough, h-BN: Rice University chemists find new path to make strong 2D material better for applications August 14th, 2019

Sharp meets flat in tunable 2D material: Rice's new atom-flat compounds show promise for optoelectronics, advanced computing August 12th, 2019

Oddball edge wins nanotube faceoff: Rice U. theory shows peculiar 'Janus' interface a common mechanism in carbon nanotube growth July 29th, 2019

Textiles/Clothing

NUS ‘smart’ textiles boost connectivity between wearable sensors by 1,000 times: Metamaterials are incorporated into conventional clothing to dramatically improve signal strength between electronic devices, allowing for new applications July 15th, 2019

The materials engineers are developing environmentally friendly materials: The materials engineers are developing environmentally friendly materials for producing smart textiles November 2nd, 2018

A bullet-proof heating pad November 2nd, 2018

Eco-friendly waterproof polymer films synthesized using novel method October 31st, 2018

Nanobiotechnology

uSEE breakthrough unlocks the nanoscale world on standard biology lab equipment August 16th, 2019

Probing the Origin of Alzheimer’s . . . with Transistors: Novel high-sensitivity detector could aid in early diagnosis August 15th, 2019

Damaged hearts rewired with nanotube fibers: Texas Heart doctors confirm Rice-made, conductive carbon threads are electrical bridges August 14th, 2019

Nanoparticles’ movement reveals whether they can successfully target cancer: Targeting nanoparticles rotate faster and move across larger areas August 9th, 2019

Research partnerships

Optofluidic chip with nanopore 'smart gate' developed for single molecule analysis: Programmable device enables on-demand delivery of individual biomolecules with feedback-controlled gating for high-throughput analysis August 16th, 2019

Damaged hearts rewired with nanotube fibers: Texas Heart doctors confirm Rice-made, conductive carbon threads are electrical bridges August 14th, 2019

Nanoparticles’ movement reveals whether they can successfully target cancer: Targeting nanoparticles rotate faster and move across larger areas August 9th, 2019

Researchers embrace imperfection to improve biomolecule transport August 8th, 2019

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project