Engineered Neurotrophin-Binding Spider Silk Biomaterials for Nerve Growth Applications
MetadataShow full item record
Spinal cord injury (SCI) is often accompanied by a lifetime of physical and psychological burden due to the limited capacity for nerve regeneration following development. Spider silks show potential as biomaterials due to their robust mechanical properties and low immunogenicity. Spiders produce up to 7 types of silk, with the toughest being aciniform silk used to wrap prey. Previous work developing production and processing methods of recombinant aciniform silk, including fusion protein constructs, makes the rational modification of this silk to enhance neuronal growth feasible. This thesis describes the production and characterization of a recombinant aciniform silk construct, NBSilk, functionalized with domains capable of tethering the neurotrophic factor, nerve growth factor- (NGF-). NBSilk films are shown to sequester NGF- and support the survival, differentiation, and neurite outgrowth of PC12 cells. These results warrant future study of NBSilk to determine its potential for nerve regeneration applications.