Aciniform spidroin, a constituent of egg case sacs and wrapping silk fibers from the black widow spider Latrodectus hesperus.J Biol Chem 2007; 282(48):35088-97JB
Spiders produce high performance fibers with diverse mechanical properties and biological functions. Molecular and biochemical studies of spider egg case silk have revealed that the main constituent of the large diameter fiber contains the fibroin TuSp1. Here we demonstrate by SDS-PAGE and protein silver staining the presence of a distinct approximately 300-kDa polypeptide that is found in solubilized egg case sacs. Combining matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization tandem time-of-flight mass spectrometry and reverse genetics, we have isolated a novel gene called AcSp1-like and demonstrate that its protein product is assembled into the small diameter fibers of egg case sacs and wrapping silks from the black widow spider, Latrodectus hesperus. BLAST searches of the NCBInr protein data base using the amino acid sequence of AcSp1-like revealed similarity to AcSp1, an inferred protein proposed to be a component of wrapping silk. However, the AcSp1-like protein was found to display more nonuniformity in its internal iterated repeat modules than the putative AcSp1 fibroin. Real time quantitative PCR analysis demonstrates that the AcSp1-like gene displays an aciniform gland-restricted pattern of expression. The amino acid composition of the fibroins extracted from the luminal contents of the aciniform glands was remarkably similar to the predicted amino acid composition of the AcSp1-like protein, which supports the assertion that AcSp1-like protein represents the major constituent stored within the aciniform gland. Collectively, our findings provide the first direct molecular evidence for the involvement of the aciniform gland in the production of a common fibroin that is assembled into the small diameter threads of egg case and wrapping silk of cob weavers.