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International Journal of Biological Chemistry
Year: 2011  |  Volume: 5  |  Issue: 4  |  Page No.: 215 - 226

Possible-efficacy of 26 kDa Antheraea mylitta Cocoonase in Cocoon-cooking

J.P. Pandey, P.K. Mishra, Dinesh Kumar, A.K. Sinha, B.C. Prasad, B.M.K. Singh and T.K. Paul    

Abstract: Generally, Antheraea mylitta cocoons cooking is carried out in alkaline condition by using soap, soda, H2O2, etc., which adversely affects the natural beautiful colour and softness of tasar silk. At eclosion stage, the emerging adults of tasar silkworm, A. mylitta exude a proteolytic enzyme ‘cocoonase’ which helps in softening anterior portion of cocoon shell and facilitates emergence of moths. Interestingly, cocoonase directly acts on the sericin protein without affecting the fibroin protein. It evidently indicates that, sericin is excellent natural substrate of cocoonase. This natural phenomenon engenders an idea to collect the cocoonase of A. mylitta and investigate its possible-efficacy in cocoon cooking. The SDS-PAGE analysis of freshly collected cocoonase (from emerging moths) showed molecular weight around 26 kDa. A simple technique for cocoonase collection from freshly pierced cocoons has been developed. Cooking of cocoon in cocoonase is concentration, pH, temperature and time dependent. Low concentration (1:15, 1:20, 1:25, 1:30 and 1:35) increases the cooking time and decreases the cooking efficiency. Higher concentration (1:5 dilutions) minimises the cocking time and increases the cooking efficiency. But cocoons were not fully reeled due to hardness in inner portion of the cocoons. Initial boiling of cocoon in water for 30 min followed by cooking in cocoonase (1:5) at 35-40°C temperature and 8.5 to 9.0 pH yielded comparatively better cooking efficiency with 50-55% silk recovery. Yarn obtained from the cocoons cooked in cocoonase preserve natural beautiful unique tasar silk colour, softness and lustre.

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