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Web-Spinning Goats

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Merlin Abraham

on 22 November 2015

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Transcript of Web-Spinning Goats

Spider Goats
-Merlin Abraham

What is it?
In 2000, Nexia Biotechnologies announced their creation of a genetically engineered goat that is able to produce the protein found in a spiders' web, in its milk. With this creation, the production of spider silk would multiply, which would be would be useful for artificial ligaments, parachute cords and various other things!
Spider silk fibers are stronger than any other man-made fiber and are more elastic, but spiders are known to be territorial so you can't put too many of them in one place. By modifying goats to make the silk, scientists are able to obtain more silk in an easier way.
The Science Behind It
Spiders can produce six types of silk. Of those six, the silk called the "dragline" silk proves to be the strongest. Scientists insert the female goat with a gene that codes for producing the "dragline" silk.
When they lactate, the protein found in spider silk is made. In order to get the silk out, the fat is skimmed and the silk proteins are separated out.
Genetic Strategy
The synthetic genes in spider silk were more effective for codon use in E.Coli and then were cloned into pBluescriptII SK(+)(stratagene), which is a plasmid vector. Silk modules carried Xmal and BspEl restriction sites at the ends of the sequence. A restriction site called Scal in the ampicillin resistance gene was part of the vector. After performing two double digestion reactions, two fragments with a copy of a silk monomer were made. Using the T4 liagase, the fragments were ligated together. This resulted in the doubling of the size of silk genes and restored ampicillin resistance.
Lewis Laboratory
This idea to assemble long repetitive spider silk genes was proposed by Lewis Laboratory. The cloning idea suggests a single step head to tail ligation which allows the production of large inserts in a more precise way. Along with the goats being inserted with this gene, Lewis has two other organisms, silkworms and bacteria, engineered to do the same thing
Pros and Cons
Spider silk is one of the most durable silks.
Silk is produced quicker and faster
Easier to use for medical reasons
The goat's appearance isn't affected
The goats are kept in a farm and are not free to roam around
The silk is only 30% as strong as the genuine spider silk
The idea of a genetically modified animals is frowned upon
The use of this GMO is one that I agree on. Silk is so common and useful in our everyday lives. Engineering goats to make this silk is an idea that I believe has its benefits. Spiders cannot be farmed and can be dangerous, on the other hand, goats are a friendlier and easier animal to deal with. Since no major health issue was found among these goats, I believe that the pros out weighs the cons. This GMO would benefit society without harming the animal. A safeguard I would take is to make sure there are no harmful side effects that would show up later on in the goat's life.
Agree or Disagree?
Here's a video :)
Full transcript