Wet-spinning of recombinant silk-elastin-like protein polymer fibers with high tensile strength and high deformability

Weiguo Qiu, Weibing Teng, Joseph Cappello, Xiaoyi Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

70 Scopus citations


A recombinant silk-elastin-like protein copolymer SELP-47K containing tandemly repeated amino acid sequence blocks from silk, GAGAGS, and elastin, GVGVP, was fabricated into microdiameter fibers using a wet-spinning technique. Raman spectral analysis revealed the formation of antiparallel β-sheet crystals of the silk-like blocks. Dry SELP-47K fibers display the dependence of mechanical properties such as Young's modulus on fiber diameter, suggesting more oriented and crystallized molecular chains in small-diameter fibers. Additionally, a brittle fracture mode was identified for dry fibers by SEM analysis of fracture surfaces. Hydration dramatically influenced the mechanical behavior of SELP-47K fibers. In contrast to the high tensile strength and limited strains to failure of dry fibers, fully hydrated SELP-47K fibers possessed strains to failure as high as 700%. Furthermore, upon chemical cross-linking, a tensile mechanical strength up to 20 MPa was achieved in hydrated fibers without compromising their high deformability. By combing the silk- and elastin-derived sequences into a single SELP-47K protein polymer, we demonstrated that protein fibers with high tensile strength and high deformability can be fabricated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)602-608
Number of pages7
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 9 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry

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