Analysis of major ampullate silk cDNAs from two non-orb-weaving spiders.Biomacromolecules. 2004 May-Jun; 5(3):657-60.B
Compared to other arthropods, spiders are unique in their use of silk throughout their life span and the extraordinary mechanical properties of the silk threads they produce. Studies on orb-weaving spider silk proteins have shown that silk proteins are composed of highly repetitive regions, characterized by alanine and glycine-rich units. We have isolated and sequenced four partial cDNA clones representing major ampullate spider silk gene transcripts from two non-orb weavers: three for Kukulcania hibernalis and one for Agelenopsis aperta. These cDNA sequences were compared to each other, as well as to the previously published orb-weaver silk gene sequences. The results indicate that the repeats encoding conserved amino acid motifs such as polyA and polyGA that are characteristic of some orb-weaving spider silks are also found in some of the cDNAs reported in this study. However, we also found other motifs such as polyGS and polyGV in the cDNA sequences from the two non-orb-weaving spiders. The amino acid composition of the silk gland extracts shows that alanine and glycine are the major components of the silk of these two non-orb weavers as is the case in orb-weaver silks. Sequence alignment shows that A. aperta's cDNA displays a C-terminal encoding region that is about 44% similar to the one present in N. clavipes's MaSp1 cDNA. In addition, as previously observed for spider silk sequences, the analysis of the codon usage for these four cDNAs demonstrates a bias for A or T in the wobble base position.