Molecular Architecture and Evolution of a Modular Spider Silk Protein Gene

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Science  25 Feb 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5457, pp. 1477-1479
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5457.1477

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Spider flagelliform silk is one of the most elastic natural materials known. Extensive sequencing of spider silk genes has shown that the exons and introns of the flagelliform gene underwent intragenic concerted evolution. The intron sequences are more homogenized within a species than are the exons. This pattern can be explained by extreme mutation and recombination pressures on the internally repetitive exons. The iterated sequences within exons encode protein structures that are critical to the function of silks. Therefore, attributes that make silks exceptional biomaterials may also hinder the fixation of optimally adapted protein sequences.

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