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Biochemistry. 2008 Feb 19;47(7):2051-63. doi: 10.1021/bi7020316. Epub 2008 Jan 29.

Hyperactive antifreeze protein from fish contains multiple ice-binding sites.

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Department of Biochemistry and Protein Function Discovery Group, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6.


Antifreeze proteins (AFPs) are produced to prevent freezing in many fish species that are exposed to icy seawater. There are a number of nonhomologous types of AFPs, diverse in both sequence and structure, which share the function of binding to ice and inhibiting its growth. We recently discovered a hyperactive AFP in the winter flounder and related species that is many-fold more active than other fish AFPs. Like the 3-4-kDa type I AFPs, it is alanine-rich and highly helical, but this 17-kDa protein is considerably larger and forms a dimer. We have sequenced the cDNA encoding this new AFP to gain insight into its structure and evolutionary relationship to the type I AFP family. The gene is clearly homologous to the righteye flounder type I AFP genes. Thus we have designated this protein "hyperactive type I AFP" (hyp-type I). The sequence of hyp-type I AFP supports a structural model in which two extended 195-amino acid alpha-helices form an amphipathic homodimer with a series of linked Ala- and Thr-rich patches on the surface of the dimer, each of which resembles ice-binding sites of type I AFPs. The superior activity of hyp-type I AFP may derive from the large combined surface area of the ice-binding sites, recognition of multiple planes of ice, and protection of the basal plane from ice growth.

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