Characterization of a cysteine-rich protein specifically expressed in the silk gland of caddisfly Stenopsyche marmorata (Trichoptera; Stenopsychidae).
A novel protein, Smsp-72k, was found to be selectively expressed in the silk gland of aquatic larvae of the Stenopsychid caddisfly (Stenopsyche marmorata). The protein was characterized by an abundance of cysteine (13.97%) and charged residues (47.21%). Amino acids with hydroxyl side-chains accounted for an additional 10% of the Smsp-72k protein, with serine at 4.4% and threonine at 5.6%. A cysteine-rich repetitive sequence is common to many potential and known underwater adhesive/cement proteins and cell-cell adhesion molecules. We hypothesized that Smsp-72k is an adhesive/cement protein that increases the adhesiveness of the silk fiber of S. marmorata. The hydroxyl groups of Smsp-72k might form a link with the heavy chain fibroin of S. marmorata, removing the weak boundary-water layer and allowing the spreading of the silk protein onto the surface of the substratum during the process of adhesion.
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