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Biochemistry. 2004 Sep 21;43(37):11637-46.

Enhancing the activity of a beta-helical antifreeze protein by the engineered addition of coils.

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Department of Biochemistry and Protein Engineering Network Centres of Excellence, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6.


The effectiveness of natural antifreeze proteins in inhibiting the growth of a seed ice crystal seems to vary with protein size. Here we have made use of the extreme regularity of the beta-helical antifreeze protein from the beetle Tenebrio molitor to explore systematically the relationship between antifreeze activity and the area of the ice-binding site. Each of the 12-amino acid, disulfide-bonded central coils of the beta-helix contains a Thr-Xaa-Thr ice-binding motif. By adding coils to, and deleting coils from, the seven-coil parent antifreeze protein, we have made a series of constructs with 6-11 coils. Misfolded forms of these antifreezes were removed by ice affinity purification to accurately compare the specific activity of each construct. There was a 10-100-fold gain in activity upon going from six to nine coils, depending on the concentration that was compared. Activity was maximal for the nine-coil construct, which gave a freezing point depression of 6.5 C degrees at 0.7 mg/mL, but actually decreased for the 10- and 11-coil constructs. This small loss in activity might result from the accumulation of a slight mismatch between the spacing of the ice-binding threonine residues and the O atoms of the ice lattice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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