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Research article2013Peer reviewed

Morphology and Composition of the Spider Major Ampullate Gland and Dragline Silk

Andersson, Marlene; Holm, Lena; Ridderstråle, Yvonne; Johansson, Jan; Rising, Anna


Spider silk is made of unique proteins-spidroins-secreted and stored as a protein solution (dope) in specialized glands. The major ampullate gland, source of the dragline silk, is composed of a tail, a sac and an elongated duct. For this gland, several different types of epithelial cells and granules have been described, but it is largely unknown how they correlate with spidroin production. It is also not settled what parts of the large spidroins end up in the final silk, and it has been suggested that the N-terminal domain (NT) is lacking. Here we show that NT is present in the dope and throughout drag,line silk fibers, including the skin layer, and that the major ampullate tail and sac consist of three different and sharply demarcated zones (A-C), each with a distinct epithelial cell type. Finally, we show that spidroins are produced in the A and B zone epithelia, while the C zone granules lack spidroins.

Published in

2013, Volume: 14, number: 8, pages: 2945-2952 Publisher: AMER CHEMICAL SOC