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Biophys J. 2002 Oct;83(4):2202-10.

Analysis of ice-binding sites in fish type II antifreeze protein by quantum mechanics.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Beijing Normal University, China.


Many organisms living in cold environments can survive subzero temperatures by producing antifreeze proteins (AFPs) or antifreeze glycoproteins. In this paper we investigate the ice-binding surface of type II AFP by quantum mechanical methods, which, to the best of our knowledge, represents the first time that molecular orbital computational approaches have been applied to AFPs. Molecular mechanical approaches, including molecular docking, energy minimization, and molecular dynamics simulation, were used to obtain optimal systems for subsequent quantum mechanical analysis. We selected 17 surface patches covering the entire surface of the type II AFP and evaluated the interaction energy between each of these patches and two different ice planes using semi-empirical quantum mechanical methods. We have demonstrated the weak orbital overlay phenomenon and the change of bond orders in ice. These results consistently indicate that a surface patch containing 19 residues (K37, L38, Y20, E22, Y21, I19, L57, T56, F53, M127, T128, F129, R17, C7, N6, P5, G10, Q1, and W11) is the most favorable ice-binding site for both a regular ice plane and an ice plane where water O atoms are randomly positioned. Furthermore, for the first time the computation results provide new insights into the weakening of the ice lattice upon AFP binding, which may well be a primary factor leading to AFP-induced ice growth inhibition.

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