Proteomic analysis of sericin in Bombyx mori cocoons

Research paper by Xin Du, Jun Li, Yuyin Chen

Indexed on: 30 Dec '11Published on: 30 Dec '11Published in: Biotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering


Cocoon sericin plays an important role in the reeling of silk and serves as a valuable biomaterial in the field of biomedicine, skincare, and food industries; however, knowledge about cocoon sericin proteins has been limited. For a comprehensive study on sericin, cocoons of eight varieties of silkworm of different geographic origin and with varied cocoon color were analyzed utilizing proteomics and bioinformatics approaches. The electrophoresis pattern demonstrated some common protein bands for all silkworm varieties and distinctive protein bands for some of those examined in the present study. The Ser2 protein, a new Ser3 protein, and four other novel sericin proteins were identified in cocoons for the first time. Products of both Ser1 and Ser3 genes appear to be ubiquitous in the cocoon shell of Bombyx mori. In addition, cocoons with especially high-reelability produced by the mutant strain B84 had an unique protein product of the Ser2 gene, indicating that the protein may play an important role in cocoon reelability. A series of sequence conflicts and post-translational modifications (PTMs) were also revealed in sericin proteins. Lipid modifications of sericin proteins, which promote waterproofing of the cocoon shell, were observed. Further, hydroxylation was identified, which provided evidence for intermolecular bonds among neighboring molecules of sericin as found in collagens. The sericin proteome data obtained from this study illuminated the molecular complexity of cocoon sericin and contributed to our understanding of the properties of sericin in filature and biomaterials.