To spin or not to spin: spider silk fibers and more

Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2015 Nov;99(22):9361-80. doi: 10.1007/s00253-015-6948-8. Epub 2015 Sep 11.


Spider silk fibers have a sophisticated hierarchical structure composed of proteins with highly repetitive sequences. Their extraordinary mechanical properties, defined by a unique combination of strength and extensibility, are superior to most man-made fibers. Therefore, spider silk has fascinated mankind for thousands of years. However, due to their aggressive territorial behavior, farming of spiders is not feasible on a large scale. For this reason, biotechnological approaches were recently developed for the production of recombinant spider silk proteins. These recombinant proteins can be assembled into a variety of morphologies with a great range of properties for technical and medical applications. Here, the different approaches of biotechnological production and the advances in material processing toward various applications will be reviewed.

Keywords: Protein morphologies; Recombinant protein production; Spider silk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biotechnology / methods*
  • Fibroins / biosynthesis*
  • Fibroins / chemistry
  • Fibroins / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Spiders / metabolism*


  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Fibroins