Biomaterials derived from silk-tropoelastin protein systems

Xiao Hu, Xiuli Wang, Jelena Rnjak, Anthony S. Weiss, David L. Kaplan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

138 Scopus citations


A structural protein blend system based on silkworm silk fibroin and recombinant human tropoelastin is described. Silk fibroin, a semicrystalline fibrous protein with beta-sheet crystals provides mechanical strength and controllable biodegradation, while tropoelastin, a noncrystallizable elastic protein provides elasticity. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and temperature modulated DSC (TMDSC) indicated that silk becomes miscible with tropoelastin at different blend ratios, without macrophase separation. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) revealed secondary structural changes of the blend system (beta-sheet content) before and after methanol treatment. Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) nano-indentation demonstrated that blending silk and tropoelastin at different ratios resulted in modification of mechanical features, with resilience from ∼68%-∼97%, and elastic modulus between 2 and 9 Mpa, depending on the ratio of the two polymers. Some of these values are close to those of native aortic elastin or elastin-like polypeptides. Significantly, during blending and drying silk-tropoelastin form micro- and nano-scale porous morphologies which promote human mesenchymal stem cell attachment and proliferation. These blends offer a new protein biomaterial system for cell support and tailored biomaterial properties to match mechanical needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8121-8131
Number of pages11
Issue number32
StatePublished - Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Bioengineering
  • Biophysics
  • Biomaterials


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