Characterization and expression of a cDNA encoding a tubuliform silk protein of the golden web spider Nephila antipodiana.Biochimie 2006; 88(7):849-58B
Spider silks are renowned for their excellent mechanical properties. Although several spider fibroin genes, mainly from dragline and capture silks, have been identified, there are still many members in the spider fibroin gene family remain uncharacterized. In this study, a novel silk cDNA clone from the golden web spider Nephila antipodiana was isolated. It is serine rich and contains two almost identical fragments with one varied gap region and one conserved spider fibroin-like C-terminal domain. Both in situ hybridization and immunoblot analyses have shown that it is specifically expressed in the tubuliform gland. Thus, it likely encodes the silk fibroin from the tubuliform gland, which supplies the main component of the inner egg case. Unlike other silk proteins, the protein encoded by the novel cDNA in water solution exhibits the characteristic of an alpha-helical protein, which implies the distinct property of the egg case silk, though the fiber of tubuliform silk is mainly composed of beta-sheet structure. Its sequence information facilitates elucidation of the evolutionary history of the araneoid fibroin genes.