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The group has a longstanding interest in the study of biopolymers (structural proteins, polysaccharides), particularly the use of biological approaches to the synthesis and modification of these material systems. Genetic engineering and metabolic engineering strategies are employed to control chemistry and thus function, along with selective chemical modifications. Materials science and engineering approaches are utilized to explore structure-function relationships from processing. Questions of self-assembly, biological interfaces and degradation are studied, along with utility in cell and tissue systems. Specific polymers of interest include: silks (silkworm, spider), collagens, resilin, elastins, bacterial cellulose.

Biomacromolecules. 2012 Mar 12;13(3):826-32. doi: 10.1021/bm201731e.
Self-assembly model including micelle formation, further rearrangement of micelles, nanofilament formation and crystallization of silk fibroin

J Struct Biol. 2014 Jun;186(3):412-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jsb.2014.03.004.
Schematic representation of the recombinant DNA strategy used to make spider silk block copolymers. NcoI, NheI, SpeI, XhoI are restriction enzymes (RE). A box above/below a specific RE indicates an oligonucleotide sequence recognized by this RE. pet30a(+) plasmid is in blue, cloning linker is in yellow, silk hydrophobic block A is in magenta, and silk hydrophilic block B is in green. Steps are the following: (1) digestion, (2) ligation of a linker, (3) ligation of A block, (4) ligation of B block.