Spider major ampullate silk fibers have been shown to display a unique combination of relatively high fracture strength and toughness compared to other fibers and show potential for tissue engineering scaffolds. While it is not possible to mass produce native spider silks, the potential ability to produce fibers from recombinant spider silk fibers could allow for an increased innovation rate within tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. In this pilot study, we improved upon a prior fabrication route by both changing the expression host and additives to the fiber pulling precursor solution to improve the performance of fibers. The new expression host for producing spidroin protein mimics, protozoan parasite Leishmania tarentolae, has numerous advantages including a relatively low cost of culture, rapid growth rate and a tractable secretion pathway. Tensile testing of hand pulled fibers produced from these spidroin-like proteins demonstrated that additives could significantly modify the fiber’s mechanical and/or antimicrobial properties. Cross-linking the proteins with glutaraldehyde before fiber pulling resulted in a relative increase in tensile strength and decrease in ductility. The addition of ampicillin into the spinning solution resulted in the fibers being able to inhibit bacterial growth.
Lyda TA, Wagner EL, Bourg AX, Peng C, Tomaraei GN, Dean D, et al. (2017) A Leishmania secretion system for the expression of major ampullate spidroin mimics. PLoS ONE 12(5): e0178201. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal. pone.0178201