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FEBS J. 2005 Sep;272(17):4439-49.

Hyperactive antifreeze protein in flounder species. The sole freeze protectant in American plaice.

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Department of Biochemistry, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, Canada.


The recent discovery of a large hyperactive antifreeze protein in the blood plasma of winter flounder has helped explain why this fish does not freeze in icy seawater. The previously known, smaller and much less active type I antifreeze proteins cannot by themselves protect the flounder down to the freezing point of seawater. The relationship between the large and small antifreezes has yet to be established, but they do share alanine-richness (> 60%) and extensive alpha-helicity. Here we have examined two other righteye flounder species for the presence of the hyperactive antifreeze, which may have escaped prior detection because of its lability. Such a protein is indeed present in the yellowtail flounder judging by its size, amino acid composition and N-terminal sequence, along with the previously characterized type I antifreeze proteins. An ortholog is also present in American plaice based on the above criteria and its high specific antifreeze activity. This protein was purified and shown to be almost fully alpha-helical, highly asymmetrical, and susceptible to denaturation at room temperature. It is the only detectable antifreeze protein in the blood plasma of the American plaice. Because this species appears to lack the smaller type I antifreeze proteins, the latter may have evolved by descent from the larger antifreeze.

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