Conformational transition and liquid crystalline state of regenerated silk fibroin in water.Biopolymers. 2008 Jun; 89(6):497-505.B
The conformational transition of molecular chains of regenerated silk fibroin (SF) aqueous solution is systematically investigated by circular dichroism, Raman, IR, and UV-vis spectroscopies. It is found that an initial random coil conformation of the SF can be readily changed into an ordered beta-sheet structure by optimizing the solution conditions, such as the SF concentration, pH, temperature, or metal-ion content. Circular dichroic spectra quantitatively confirm a steadily decreased content of the random coil conformation but a significantly increased beta-sheet content after an ultrasonic or extruding treatment. Furthermore, the extrusion is more powerful to achieve high beta-sheet content than the ultrasonic. It is interesting that the polarized optical micrographs of the SF aqueous solution extruded by injection illustrate the formation and existence of liquid crystalline state. A study of extrusion in vitro could be used as a model system to understand the natural silk spinning process in silkworm.