Chemistry Seminar Series: Jan K. RaineyExport this event to calendar

Tuesday, September 17, 2019 — 10:00 AM EDT

Unraveling atomic through nanoscale features of underexplored spider silks

Jan K. Rainey
Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Department of Chemistry
Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Tuesday, September 17, 2019
10:00 a.m.
C2-361 (Reading Room)

Abstract

Spiders produce up to seven protein-based silks. These materials are remarkably strong and extensible. Of these, wrapping silk  is the toughest (i.e., it can absorb the most energy prior to failure), with toughness per unit weight rivaling any known material. Pyriform silk fibres are spun and applied in a composite material to attach webs to a substrate, with almost nothing known about these fibres. Exploiting recombinant protein production in bacteria, we have been investigating the link between the molecular architecture, material processing, and fibre mechanics for each of these silks. I will show our evidence that each has a modular behaviour, with a widespread structural transition required between the soluble and fibrous states. In each case, a nanoparticle-type intermediate may form en route to the ultimate fibrous state. Interestingly, despite disparate amino acid composition and modular architecture, recombinant pyriform silk forms very tough fibres akin to wrapping silk. We are continuing to probe the protein architecture and behaviour at each stage along the self-assembly pathway for these ill-understood types of silk, with the ultimate goal of understanding the source of the outstanding toughness of these materials and the ways in which they can be tweaked for a given application.
 

Location 
C2 - Chemistry 2
Room 361
200 University Avenue West

Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1
Canada

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