Fine structural aspects of silk secretion in a spider (Araneus diadematus). I. Elaboration in the pyriform glands

Tissue Cell. 1980;12(3):547-56. doi: 10.1016/0040-8166(80)90044-0.


Pyriform glands of Araneus diadematus which produce the silky material used for the attachment discs of the web, consist of two kinds of secretory cells. One, located in the distal half of the glands, elaborates finely fibrillar proteinic granules through an extensive rough endoplasmic reticulum; another, in the proximal half of the glands, secretes complex-structured granules in areas of the cell where Golgi and ergastoplasmic cisternae are equally developed. The opaque nascent granules of secretion appear in swollen Golgi saccules. These aggregate is superposed circular interconnected layers leaving an electron-lucent space between them; in the course of maturation the space is progressively filled with a fibrillar material. Histochemical tests suggest that the secretory product of the proximal half is mainly a protein rich in acidic groups and associated with a carbohydrate component. The two products, extruded by a merocrine process, form respectively the core and the envelope of the silk fibre. The dual composition of the pyriform gland silk, which did not appear from the results of chemical analyses, is compared to the association of fibroin and sericin in Lepidoptera silk and to certain double-layered Trichoptera silks.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / ultrastructure
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / ultrastructure
  • Exocrine Glands / metabolism
  • Exocrine Glands / ultrastructure
  • Golgi Apparatus / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Spiders / physiology
  • Spiders / ultrastructure*