Biosynthesis of an amphiphilic silk-like polymer

M.W.T. Werten, A.P.H.A. Moers, Tu Ha Vong, H. Zuilhof, J.C.M. Hest, van, F.A. de Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


An amphiphilic silk-like protein polymer was efficiently produced in the yeast Pichia pastoris. The secreted product was fully intact and was purified by solubilization in formic acid and subsequent precipitation of denatured host proteins upon dilution with water. In aqueous alkaline solution, the negatively charged acidic polymer assumed extended helical (silk III-like) and unordered conformations. Upon subsequent drying, it assumed a conformation rich in β-turns. In water at low pH, the uncharged polymer aggregated and the solution became turbid. Concentrated solutions in 70% (v/v) formic acid slowly formed gels. Replacement of the formic acid-water mixture with methanol and subsequent drying resulted in β-sheets, which stacked into fibril-like structures. The novel polymer instantaneously lowered the air-water interfacial tension under neutral to alkaline conditions and reversed the polarity of hydrophobic and hydrophilic solid surfaces upon adsorption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1705-1711
Number of pages7
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes


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