A group around Yasuo TSUCHIYA and Keiji NUMATA at RIKEN has developed a bio-inspired method to synthesize spider thread-type polymers. In a 2-step chemical synthesis, they condensed two types of prefabricated polypeptide blocks (a polyalanine sequence and a sequence containing many glycine), which are sequences commonly found in spider silk.Various multiblock polypeptides with different ratios of the two kinds of polypeptides were synthesized, and their secondary structure was examined by wide angle X-ray scattering experiment. As a result, it was found that an antiparallel β sheet structure derived from a polyalanine sequence was formed, and that the secondary structure was similar to spider thread.

RIKEN news release, January 19, 2017