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Spider silks are well known for their exceptional mechanical properties that are tougher than Kevlar and steel. However, the restricted production amounts from their native sources limit applications of spider silks. Over the decades, there have been significant interests in fabricating man-made silk fibers with comparable performance to natural silks, inspiring many efforts both for biosynthesizing recombinant spider silk proteins (spidroins) in amenable heterologous hosts and biomimetic spinning of artificial spider silks. These strategies provide promising routes to produce high-performance and functionally optimized fibers with diverse applications. Herein, we summarize the hosts that have been applied to produce recombinant spidroins. In addition, the fabrication and mechanical properties of recombinant spidroin fibers and their composite fibers are also introduced. Furthermore, we demonstrate the applications of recombinant spidroin-based fibers. Finally, facing the challenges in biosynthesis, scalable production, and hierarchical assembly of high-performance recombinant spidroins, we give a summary and perspective on future development.

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Engineered spidroin-derived high-performance fibers for diverse applications

Show Author's information Dawen Qin1Jingjing Li2( )Huanrong Li1( )Hongjie Zhang2,3,4Kai Liu2,3,4( )
National-Local Joint Engineering Laboratory for Energy Conservation in Chemical Process Integration and Resources Utilization, Tianjin Key Laboratory of Chemical Process Safety, School of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Hebei University of Technology, Tianjin 300130, China
State Key Laboratory of Rare Earth Resource Utilization, Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Changchun 130022, China
Engineering Research Center of Advanced Rare Earth Materials, Ministry of Education, Department of Chemistry, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei 230026, China


Spider silks are well known for their exceptional mechanical properties that are tougher than Kevlar and steel. However, the restricted production amounts from their native sources limit applications of spider silks. Over the decades, there have been significant interests in fabricating man-made silk fibers with comparable performance to natural silks, inspiring many efforts both for biosynthesizing recombinant spider silk proteins (spidroins) in amenable heterologous hosts and biomimetic spinning of artificial spider silks. These strategies provide promising routes to produce high-performance and functionally optimized fibers with diverse applications. Herein, we summarize the hosts that have been applied to produce recombinant spidroins. In addition, the fabrication and mechanical properties of recombinant spidroin fibers and their composite fibers are also introduced. Furthermore, we demonstrate the applications of recombinant spidroin-based fibers. Finally, facing the challenges in biosynthesis, scalable production, and hierarchical assembly of high-performance recombinant spidroins, we give a summary and perspective on future development.

Keywords: mechanical property, heterologous expression, spider silk, recombinant spidroin, fiber fabrication



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Publication history

Publication history

Received: 04 April 2023
Revised: 18 May 2023
Accepted: 21 May 2023
Published: 29 June 2023
Issue date: February 2024


© Tsinghua University Press 2023



This work was supported by the National Key R&D Program of China (No. 2022YFA0913200), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 22107097, 22020102003, 22125701, 22175053, and 21771050), and the Youth Innovation Promotion Association of CAS (No. 2021226).