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Identification and dynamics of polyglycine II nanocrystals in Argiope trifasciata flagelliform silk

Scientific Reports
Nature Publishing Group
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1038/srep03061
  • Article
  • Biology


Spider silks combine a significant number of desirable characteristics in one material, including large tensile strength and strain at breaking, biocompatibility, and the possibility of tailoring their properties. Major ampullate gland silk (MAS) is the most studied silk and their properties are explained by a double lattice of hydrogen bonds and elastomeric protein chains linked to polyalanine β-nanocrystals. However, many basic details regarding the relationship between composition, microstructure and properties in silks are still lacking. Here we show that this relationship can be traced in flagelliform silk (Flag) spun by Argiope trifasciata spiders after identifying a phase consisting of polyglycine II nanocrystals. The presence of this phase is consistent with the dominant presence of the –GGX– and –GPG– motifs in its sequence. In contrast to the passive role assigned to polyalanine nanocrystals in MAS, polyglycine II nanocrystals can undergo growing/collapse processes that contribute to increase toughness and justify the ability of Flag to supercontract.

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