WF Yellow Group Research Proposal

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spider silk

Project Overview

Background Information

The replication of spider silk proteins for use in the industrial sphere is of significant interest as the strength, toughness, and elasticity of this material is remarkable. The biodegradability and biocompatibility of the silk make it an ideal material for biological application, including sutures and scaffolding for cell growth. Generation of this protein through research efforts would lead to the creation of a synthesized polymer paralleling the impressive potential of naturally-produced spider silk.

Research Problem and Goals

Because of the substantial size of the proteins composing spider silk, these proteins are difficult to engineer in a laboratory setting as typical methods of transformation using a bacterial cell prove ineffective in generating such a large protein. Scientists have been successful in their efforts to produce the desired protein in cow's milk as a result of gene expression but this method of production is not as efficient as it could be in a laboratory setting. Rather than using a bacterial cell, the incorporation of the specified gene in a mammalian cell to instigate protein development is a viable option that is currently being analyzed. As part of our research project, we will explore the possibility of producing spider silk proteins in a laboratory to maximize efficiency. At this point in time, we are not yet sure of how we will examine this process. There are two different paths that we could choose to explore. We could look into generating smaller proteins that could be combined to form the entire protein expressed in spider silk. We could also work to determine the ideal conditions for protein development and establish such an environment for optimal growth in the lab.

Project Details and Methods

Predicted Outcomes