Silk glands of araneid spiders: Selected morphological and physiological aspects


Regionalization within the glandular epithelium of araneid silk glands has been revealed by several authors using various experimental methods. The relationship of this regionalization to the potential complexity of silk is discussed. We also review studies on the regulation of secretory protein synthesis in araneid silk glands, with an unavoidable emphasis on the major ampullate glands, the most frequently studied spider silk glands. A brief discussion of the relationship between web composition and the nutritional requirements of araneid spiders follows. Lastly, we describe a mechanism which allows juvenile araneid spiders to produce ampullate fibers during proecdysis (the preparatory period before ecdysis), a time when the primary major and minor ampullate glands are being remodeled and are temporarily nonfunctional. Two sets of secondary major and minor ampullate glands function alternately in successive proecdyses. (Only one set is functional in each juvenile stadium.) Both sets are nonfunctional and atrophied in adults (i.e. after the final molt).


Molecular, Cellular and Biomedical Sciences

Publication Date



American Chemical Society

Document Type

Book Chapter


Copyright © 1994 American Chemical Society