Proteomic Profiling of the Photo-Oxidation of Silk Fibroin: Implications for Historic Tin-Weighted Silk

Authors

  • Caroline Solazzo,

    Corresponding author
    1. BioArCh, Department of Archaeology, University of York, York, UK
    2. Proteins and Biomaterials, AgResearch Lincoln Research Centre, Christchurch, New Zealand
      Corresponding author email: solazzo.c@gmail.com (Caroline Solazzo)
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  • Jolon M. Dyer,

    1. Proteins and Biomaterials, AgResearch Lincoln Research Centre, Christchurch, New Zealand
    2. Biomolecular Interaction Centre, University of Canterbury, Canterbury, New Zealand
    3. Riddet Institute at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
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  • Santanu Deb-Choudhury,

    1. Proteins and Biomaterials, AgResearch Lincoln Research Centre, Christchurch, New Zealand
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  • Stefan Clerens,

    1. Proteins and Biomaterials, AgResearch Lincoln Research Centre, Christchurch, New Zealand
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  • Paul Wyeth

    1. Cherish Consultancy, Winchester, UK
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Corresponding author email: solazzo.c@gmail.com (Caroline Solazzo)

Abstract

The stability of silk proteins to ultraviolet light is an issue of significant concern in both the appearance retention of silk-derived products and the preservation of historic silk textiles. Until now, evaluation of silk degradation has only been performed at the holistic, rather than molecular level. This article describes the first proteomic profiling of silk photo-oxidation, characterizing protein primary level modification leading to coloration changes, and evaluating the effects of tin weighting on photodegradation. Heavy-chain fibroin, the main proteinaceous component of the silk thread, is a repetitive, highly crystalline protein with a content rich in tyrosine. Photoproducts of tyrosine were characterized and the levels of oxidative modification at the protein primary structural level correlated with changes in coloration and tensile strength. The effect of tin as a weighting agent used on historical fabrics was examined. Tin-weighted fabrics were evaluated following two treatments (pink and dynamite) and proteomic analysis revealed a significant increase in oxidatively modified amino acid residues within the pink-treated silk. These findings offer new insight into the molecular-level oxidation of silk proteins under UV exposure, and the effects of silk treatments in either exacerbating or ameliorating this degradation.

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