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J Exp Biol. 1988 Jul;137:549-63.

Freezing avoidance and the distribution of antifreeze glycopeptides in body fluids and tissues of Antarctic fish.

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  • 1University of Illinois, Urbana 61801.


The distribution of antifreeze glycopeptides (AFGPs) in the body fluids and tissues of antarctic notothenioid fish was determined. In Dissostichus mawsoni (Norman), the peritoneal, pericardial and extradural fluid, like the blood, contained all eight AFGPs and in concentrations sufficient to depress freezing points below that of sea water (-1.9 degree C). Secreted fluids including urine, endolymph and aqueous and vitreous humour either lack all AFGPs or have very low concentrations of only the low molecular weight forms and have freezing points of about -1.0 degree C, and are therefore undercooled with respect to environmental temperature. Fluids with high concentrations of AFGPs also contain high levels of proteins similar to plasma proteins. Systemic administration of tritiated AFGPs in the closely related species Trematomus bernacchii (Boulenger) yielded a distribution pattern similar to that of the native AFGPs in D. mawsoni. This suggests passive distribution of AFGPs into the various fluid compartments following secretion from the liver; a pattern typical of secreted blood proteins. Tissue distribution of AFGPs was determined by comparison with that of the extracellular space marker [14C]polyethylene glycol. AFGPs were found in the interstitial fluid of all body tissues examined except brain tissue. No tissue showed any intracellular accumulation of tritiated AFGPs from the blood.

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