The silk proteins, sericin and fibroin in silkworm, Bombyx mori Linn., - a review


Silkworm Physiology Laboratory, Central Sericultural Research and Training Institute Mysore, 570008, Karnataka, India.


The domesticated silkworm, Bombyx mori Linn., a lepidopteran molecular model and an important economic insect that are emerging as an ideal molecular genetic resource for solving a broad range of biological problems. The silkworm, B. mori produces massive amount of silk proteins during the final stage of larval development. These proteins are stored in the middle silk gland and they are discharged through the anterior duct and spinneret, at the end of the fifth instar. Two kinds of silk proteins have been distinguished as major components of silk cocoons, the first being fibroin, a fibrous protein composed of heavy (H) chain, Light (L) chain and glycoprotein linked by disulfide bonds and the second being sericin a natural macromolecular protein, serving as an adhesive to unite fibroin for making silk cocoons of silkworm, B. mori. Recently, silkworm is being used as biofactory for the production of useful protein using the silk gland, which has promoted the technological development in sericulture. With the above background silkworm can be classified as a value added biomaterial for medical application, application of silk protein fibroin and sericin as a biomaterial and other seri-byproducts. The present paper overviews some important studies carried out on sericin and fibroin of silkworm, Bombyx mori Linn.