Formation of Silk Fibre by the Silkworm


THE silk-producing apparatus of the common silkworm provides a convenient system for the study of several aspects of the synthesis of fibrous proteins. It is particularly useful for the investigation of the transformation from the soluble precursor protein of the gland into the solid, insoluble, fibrous fibroin. The precursor, which may be called ‘fibroinogen’, accumulates in solution in the silk gland and is converted into the fibre by the disturbances produced during spinning. Certain structural problems have recently been studied by Kratky, Schauenstein and Sekora1,2, who have described an X-ray pattern characteristic of the soluble precursor, which appears to differ from the well-known pattern of silk fibre. Similar observations have been made by us.

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MERCER, E. Formation of Silk Fibre by the Silkworm. Nature 168, 792–793 (1951).

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