Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, NARO

Silk Materials Research Unit

The Silk Materials Research Unit focuses mainly on (1) analysis of the structure and properties of silk proteins, (2) adding new functionality to silk, (3) exploring the unknown / unutilized silk made by insects other than silkworm, (4) developing various fabrication processes for formation of innovative materials with different characteristics. Our main goal is to commercialize the molding processed silk as new material.

Development of tough silk "Spider silk thread" using gene recombination technology

The spider silk thread is known to be the strongest natural fiber. We have successfully generated a transgenic silkworm which produces new silk material combining the tensile strength and elasticity of spider dragline silk and the high quality characteristic of silk derived from silkworm. This new spider-type silk is 1.5 times tougher as compared to normal silk. A processing method similar to normal silk has also been successfully applied in production of textile using spider-type silk for the first time in the world.


Development of "hornet silk" using hornet larva

Hornet silk, a fibrous protein in the cocoon produced by the larva of the vespa. We found that hornet silk has a different molecular structure (coiled coil structure) from silk and spider silk.In addition, it was found that moldability and physical properties of the material were excellent, hence we are conducting research with the expectation of materials application in various fields.

Creation and use of new silk material "clickable silk" that can add desired functions by click reaction

By extending the amino acid recognizing ability of silkworm by genetic recombination,by means of incorporating a special functional group called an azide group, a new silk material "clickable silk" was produced. This clickable silk, by means of click reaction which is a simple and reliable chemical reaction, it is possible to add the desired functions freely. This research is expected to greatly improve the possibility of the usage of silk in the medical field


Unit Leader

KAMEDA Tsunenori

Unit Members

KOJIMA Katsura Senior Scientist
TERAMOTO Hidetoshi Senior Scientist
RYOKO Ichiki Senior Scientist
YOSHIOKA Taiyo Researcher
HATA Tamako Senior Scientist
MITSUHASHI Wataru Re-employed staff
YUKUHIRO Kenji Re-employed staff

Research Publications

  • Kambe Y, Kojima K, Tamada Y, Tomita N, Kameda T (2015) Silk fibroin sponges with cell growth-promoting activity induced by genetically fused basic fibroblast growth factor. Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part A: DOI: 10.1002/jbm.a.35543
  • Hashimoto T, Taniguchi Y, Kameda T, Tamada Y, Kurosu H (2015) Changes in the properties and protein structure of silk fibroin molecules in autoclaved fabrics. Polymer Degradation and Stability 112: 20-26
  • Sutherland TD, Sriskantha A, Church J, Strive T, Trueman H, Kameda T (2014) Stabilization of viruses by encapsulation in silk proteins. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 6: 18189-18196
  • Kameda T, (2015) Influence of pH, temperature and concentration on stabilization of aqueous hornet silk solution and fabrication of salt-free materials. Biopolymers 103: 41-52
  • Kambe Y, Sutherland TD, Kameda T (2014) Recombinant production and film properties of single full-length hornet silk proteins. Acta Biomaterialia 10: 3590-3598
  • Campbell PM, Trueman HE, Zhang Q, Kojima K, Kameda T, Sutherland TD (2014) Cross-linking in the silks of bees, ants and hornets. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 48: 40-50
  • Kameda T, Nemoto T, Ogawa T, Tosaka M, Kuratab H, Schaper AK (2014) Evidence of α-helical coiled coils and β-sheets in hornet silk. Journal of Structural Biology 185: 303-308
  • Kambe Y, Kameda T (2014) Production and cell adhesion activity of recombinant full-length hornet silk protein fused with RGDS peptide. J Silk Sci Tech Jpn 22: 47-49
  • Matsunaga T, Moriizumi M, Kameda T (2013) Molecular characterization of organic nitrogen in cattle manure compost by size-exclusion HPLC with chemiluminescent nitrogen detection.Anal Sci 29: 923-926
  • Walker AA, Weisman S, Kameda T, Sutherland TD (2012) Natural templates for coiled coil biomaterials from praying mantis egg-cases. Biomacromolecules, 13: 4264-4272
  • Kameda T (2012) Quantifying the fraction of alanine residues in an ?-helical conformation in hornet silk using solid-state NMR". Polymer Journal 44: 876-881
  • Kameda T, Kojima K, Zhang Q, Sezutsu H (2012) Identification of Hornet silk gene with a characteristic repetitive sequence in Vespa simillima xanthoptera. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology 161: 17-24
  • Kuwana Y, Sezutsu H, Nakajima K, Tamada Y, Kojima K (2014) High-toughness silk produced by a transgenic silkworm expressing spider (Araneus ventricosus) dragline silk protein PLoS ONE 9(8):e105325
  • Sato M, Kojima K, Sakuma C, Murakami M, Tamada Y, Kitani H (2014) Production of scFv-conjugated affinity silk film and its application to a novel enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Scientific Reports 4(): 4080
  • Iizuka T, Sezutsu H, Tatematsu K, Kobayashi I, Yonemura N, Uchino K, Nakajima K, Kojima K, Takabayashi C, Machii H, Yamada K, Kurihara H, Asakura T, Nakazawa Y, Miyawaki A, Karasawa S, Kobayashi H, Yamaguchi J, Kuwabara N, Nakamura T, Yoshii K, Tamura T (2013) Colored fluorescent silk made by transgenic silkworms. Advanced Functional Materials 23(42): 5232-5239
  • Teramoto H, Kojima, K. (2016) Inhibitory effects on silk fibroin production by the expression of phenylalanyl-tRNA synthetase mutants in posterior silk glands of Bombyx mori. J Insect Biotechnol Sericol 85: 31-37.
  • Teramoto H, Nakajima K, Kojima K. (2016) Azide-incorporated clickable silk fibroin materials with the ability to photopattern. ACS Biomater Sci Eng 2: 251-258
  • Teramoto H, Kojima K. (2015) Incorporation of methionine analogues into Bombyx mori silk fibroin for click modifications. Macromol Biosci 15 (5): 719-727
  • Teramoto H, Kojima, K. (2014) Production of silk fibroin incorporated with unnatural amino acids. Biomacromolecules 15 (7): 2682-2690
  • Teramoto H, Kojima K (2014) Residue-specific incorporation of phenylalanine analogues into protein biosynthesis in silkworm cultured cells. J. Insect Biotechnol Sericol 82 (3): 61-69
  • Hosoe M, Yoshida N, Hashiyada Y, Teramoto H, Takahashi T, Niimura S (2014) Sericin accelerates the production of hyaluronan and decreases the incidence of polyspermy fertilization in bovine oocytes during maturation. J Reprod Develop 60 (4): 268-273
  • Hattori S, Terada D, Teramoto H, Kameda T, Tamada Y, Kobayashi H, Honda T, Yoshikawa C (2012) Influence of sterilisations on silk protein-based material. Bioinsp. Biomim. Nanobiomater 1 (3): 195-199
  • Terada D, Hattori S, Teramoto H, Kameda T, Tamada Y, Kobayashi H (2012) Silk nanofibre arranging improves its fibre mat transparency. Bioinsp Biomim Nanobiomater 1 (1): 57-61
  • Teramoto H, Kojima K, Kajiwara H, Ishibashi J. (2012) Expansion of the amino acid repertoire in protein biosynthesis in silkworm cells. ChemBioChem 13 (1): 61-65
  • Yoshioka T, Tashiro K, Otha N (2016) Molecular orientation enhancement of silk by the hot-stretching-induced transition from helix-HFI complex to ?sSheet, Biomacromolecules 17: 1437-148
  • Kawahara Y, Yoshioka T, Takarada W, Kikutani T, Tsuji M (2016) Alkaline hydrolysis kinetics of poly(ethylene terephthalate) fibers. J Fiber Sci Technol 72(1): 9-16