Functional diversity of resilin in Arthropoda

Beilstein J Nanotechnol. 2016 Sep 1:7:1241-1259. doi: 10.3762/bjnano.7.115. eCollection 2016.


Resilin is an elastomeric protein typically occurring in exoskeletons of arthropods. It is composed of randomly orientated coiled polypeptide chains that are covalently cross-linked together at regular intervals by the two unusual amino acids dityrosine and trityrosine forming a stable network with a high degree of flexibility and mobility. As a result of its molecular prerequisites, resilin features exceptional rubber-like properties including a relatively low stiffness, a rather pronounced long-range deformability and a nearly perfect elastic recovery. Within the exoskeleton structures, resilin commonly forms composites together with other proteins and/or chitin fibres. In the last decades, numerous exoskeleton structures with large proportions of resilin and various resilin functions have been described. Today, resilin is known to be responsible for the generation of deformability and flexibility in membrane and joint systems, the storage of elastic energy in jumping and catapulting systems, the enhancement of adaptability to uneven surfaces in attachment and prey catching systems, the reduction of fatigue and damage in reproductive, folding and feeding systems and the sealing of wounds in a traumatic reproductive system. In addition, resilin is present in many compound eye lenses and is suggested to be a very suitable material for optical elements because of its transparency and amorphousness. The evolution of this remarkable functional diversity can be assumed to have only been possible because resilin exhibits a unique combination of different outstanding properties.

Keywords: biological materials; biomechanics; composites; elastomeric proteins; functional morphology.

Publication types

  • Review