An independently evolved Dipteran silk with features common to Lepidopteran silks

Tara D. Sutherland, James H. Young, Alagacone Sriskantha, Sarah Weisman, Shoko Okada, Victoria S. Haritos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Male hilarine flies (Diptera: Empididae: Empidinae) present prospective mates with silk-wrapped gifts. The silk is produced by specialised cells located in the foreleg basitarsus of the fly. In this report, we describe 2.3 kbp of the silk gene from a hilarine fly (Hilara spp.) that was identified from highly expressed mRNA extracted from the prothoracic basitarsus of males. Using specific primers, we found that the silk gene is expressed in the basitarsi and not in any other part of the male fly. The silk gene from the basitarsi cDNA library matched an approximately 220 kDa protein from the silk-producing basitarsus. Although the predicted silk protein sequence was unlike any other protein sequence in available databases, the architecture and composition of the predicted protein had features in common with previously described silks. The convergent evolution of these features in the Hilarini silk and other silks emphasises their importance in the functional requirements of silk proteins. Crown

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1036-1043
Number of pages8
JournalInsect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Basitarsus
  • Dance fly silk protein
  • Hilarini

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