Silk micrococoons for protein stabilisation and molecular encapsulation

Ulyana Shimanovich, Francesco S. Ruggeri, Erwin De Genst, Jozef Adamcik, Teresa P. Barros, David Porter, Thomas Müller, Raffaele Mezzenga, Christopher M. Dobson, Fritz Vollrath, Chris Holland, Tuomas P.J. Knowles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Naturally spun silks generate fibres with unique properties, including strength, elasticity and biocompatibility. Here we describe a microfluidics-based strategy to spin liquid native silk, obtained directly from the silk gland of Bombyx mori silkworms, into micron-scale capsules with controllable geometry and variable levels of intermolecular β-sheet content in their protein shells. We demonstrate that such micrococoons can store internally the otherwise highly unstable liquid native silk for several months and without apparent effect on its functionality. We further demonstrate that these native silk micrococoons enable the effective encapsulation, storage and release of other aggregation-prone proteins, such as functional antibodies. These results show that native silk micrococoons are capable of preserving the full activity of sensitive cargo proteins that can aggregate and lose function under conditions of bulk storage, and thus represent an attractive class of materials for the storage and release of active biomolecules.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15902
JournalNature Communications
StatePublished - 19 Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes

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© The Author(s) 2017.


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