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Spider Silk Capsules as Protective Reaction Containers for Enzymes

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Abstract

Spider silk fibres are well known for their high tensile strength in combination with high elasticity. Based on the possibility of recombinant production of spider silk proteins, technical applications of spider silk materials are nowadays feasible. The engineered recombinant spider silk protein eADF4(C16) is based on the sequence of ADF4 (Araneus diadematus fibroin), one out of at least three proteins of the dragline silk of the European garden spider A. diadematus. The protein eADF4(C16) can be processed into different morphologies. Here, capsules of eADF4(C16) are assembled at an oil/water interface. These microcapsules are mechanically stable and can be used as a transport system for higher molecular weight compounds such as enzymes or chemical catalysts. Further, they can be regarded as a small enclosed reaction chamber with a semi-permeable membrane. Reactions can be initiated by diffusion of the reactants through the silk membrane. The eADF4(C16) capsules protect the enzyme β-galactosidase, used as model, against proteolysis. Functional α-complementation of β-galactosidase visualizes the controllable activation of an enzyme within such spider silk capsule, highlighting the broad applicability thereof as reaction containers, e.g., for enzymes.

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