Silk fibroin, produced by the silkworm Bombyx mori, has been widely studied as a scaffold in tissue engineering. Although it has been shown to be slowly biodegradable, cellular responses to degraded silk fibroin fragments are largely unknown. In this study, silk fibroin was added to MG-63 cell cultures, and changes in gene expression in the MG-63 cells were screened by DNA microarray analysis. Genes showing a significant (2-fold) change were selected and their expression changes confirmed by quantitative RT-PCR and western blotting. DNA microarray results showed that alkaline phosphatase (ALP), collagen type-I alpha-1, fibronectin, and transforming growth factor-beta1 expressions significantly increased. The effect of degraded silk fibroin on osteoblastogenic gene expression was confirmed by observing up-regulation of ALP activity in MG-63 cells. The finding that small fragments of silk fibroin are able to increase the expression of osteoblastogenic genes suggests that controlled degradation of silk fibroin might accelerate new bone formation. [BMB reports 2010; 43(1): 52-56].
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