The Production of Fibers and Films from Solubilized Hagfish Slime Thread Proteins
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Hagfish slime threads, which make up the fibrous component of the defensive slime of hagfishes, consist primarily of proteins from the intermediate filament family of proteins and possess impressive mechanical properties that make them attractive biomimetic models. To investigate whether solubilized intermediate filament proteins can be used to make high-performance, environmentally sustainable materials, we cast thin films on the surface of electrolyte buffers using solubilized hagfish slime thread proteins. The films were drawn into fibers, and the tensile properties were measured. Fiber mechanics depended on casting conditions and postspinning processing. Postsecondary drawing resulted in fibers with improved material properties similar to those of regenerated silk fibers. Structural analyses of the fibers revealed increased molecular alignment resulting from the second draw, but no increase in crystallinity. Our findings show promise for intermediate filament proteins as an alternative source for the design and production of high performance protein-based fibers.
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