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Trends Biochem Sci. 2002 Feb;27(2):101-6.

Antifreeze proteins: an unusual receptor-ligand interaction.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6.


Antifreeze proteins (AFPs) help organisms to survive below 0 degrees C by inhibiting ice growth. Although AFPs are structurally diverse, they typically present a large proportion of their surface area for binding to ice. Whereas earlier proposed binding mechanisms relied almost entirely on a hydrogen bond match between the AFP and ice, it now seems probable that van der Waals and hydrophobic interactions make a significant contribution to the enthalpy of adsorption. These interactions require intimate surface-surface complementarity between the receptor (AFP) and its ligand (ice).

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