Diverse formulas for spider dragline fibers demonstrated by molecular and mechanical characterization of spitting spider silk.Biomacromolecules 2014; 15(12):4598-605B
Spider silks have outstanding mechanical properties. Most research has focused on dragline silk proteins (major ampullate spidroins, MaSps) from orb-weaving spiders. Using silk gland expression libraries from the haplogyne spider Scytodes thoracica, we discovered two novel spidroins (S. thoracica fibroin 1 and 2). The amino acid composition of S. thoracica silk glands and dragline fibers suggest that fibroin 1 is the major component of S. thoracica dragline silk. Fibroin 1 is dominated by glycine-alanine motifs, and lacks sequence motifs associated with orb-weaver MaSps. We hypothesize fibroin 2 is a piriform or aciniform silk protein, based on amino acid composition, spigot morphology, and phylogenetic analyses. S. thoracica's dragline silk is less tough than previously reported, but is still comparable to other dragline silks. Our analyses suggest that dragline silk proteins evolved multiple times. This demonstrates that spider dragline silk is more diverse than previously understood, providing alternative high performance silk designs.