Study reveals how silkworms produce silk at single-cell level

A study has revealed how domesticated silkworm produces silk in its silk gland and the silkworm’s transcriptome has been mapped at the single-cell level. The silk gland in silkworms is the organ that produces silk. The study revealed the heterogeneity of silkworm silk gland cells and their gene expression dynamics, contributing to the research on silk protein synthesis at the single-cell level and silkworm breeding, said Prof. Xu Hanfu who led the research.

A study has revealed how domesticated silkworm produces silk in its silk gland and the silkworm’s transcriptome has been mapped at the single-cell level.

The silk gland in silkworms is the organ that produces silk, a protein material in nature, but little has been studied about which cells in the silk gland synthesize silk protein, according to the results published in the journal Nature Communications.

Chinese researchers from the Chongqing-based Southwest University dissected nearly 20,000 individuals of silkworms in three early developmental stages like embryos and built a cell atlas of its silk gland through single-cell RNA sequencing.

They found a total of 10 distinct cell types existing in the silk gland of the silkworm, each performing functions like the synthesis of silk fibroin protein and sericin protein and metabolism of silk protein, the paper said.

The study revealed the heterogeneity of silkworm silk gland cells and their gene expression dynamics, contributing to the research on silk protein synthesis at the single-cell level and silkworm breeding, said Prof. Xu Hanfu who led the research.

This news was originally published by Xinhua.