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      Ultrastructure of the major ampullate gland of the black widow spider, Latrodectus hesperus

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      Tissue and Cell
      Elsevier BV

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          Abstract

          Silk production in the spider occurs within specialized glands that are capable of the synthesis of large fibrous proteins and the post-translational processing of those proteins to form an insoluble fiber. The major ampullate gland of Latrodectus hesperus (black widow) is similar in morphology to those found in the Araneid spiders. The tail domain of this gland is highly protein synthetic, giving rise to a core, fibrous protein product. In addition to a storage function, the ampulla region also synthesizes and exports an electron dense material that appears to form a 'coat' surrounding the silk generated within the tail. The duct of the gland consists of at least two distinct cell types: one type contains 'honeycomb' vesicles of unknown function, while the other possesses elaborate apical microvilli that may be involved in the reabsorption of water and subsequent dehydration of the silk. As the silk product transits through these various stages of assembly, it can been seen to undergo a condensation or concentration, possibly reflecting the influence of both the shear forces induced by movement into the duct and the dehydration that is thought to occur there.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Tissue and Cell
          Tissue and Cell
          Elsevier BV
          00408166
          December 2002
          December 2002
          : 34
          : 6
          : 427-436
          Article
          10.1016/S0040816602000836
          12441095
          709f664e-0054-4877-ba7b-c1c6acefced5
          © 2002

          https://www.elsevier.com/tdm/userlicense/1.0/

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