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Biochemistry. 1997 Dec 2;36(48):14652-60.

A diminished role for hydrogen bonds in antifreeze protein binding to ice.

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Protein Engineering Network of Centres of Excellence, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.


The most abundant isoform (HPLC-6) of type I antifreeze protein (AFP1) in winter flounder is a 37-amino-acid-long, alanine-rich, alpha-helical peptide, containing four Thr spaced 11 amino acids apart. It is generally assumed that HPLC-6 binds ice through a hydrogen-bonding match between the Thr and neighboring Asx residues to oxygens atoms on the {2021} plane of the ice lattice. The result is a lowering of the nonequilibrium freezing point below the melting point (thermal hysteresis). HPLC-6, and two variants in which the central two Thr were replaced with either Ser or Val, were synthesized. The Ser variant was virtually inactive, while only a minor loss of activity was observed in the Val variant. CD, ultracentrifugation, and NMR studies indicated no significant structural changes or aggregation of the variants compared to HPLC-6. These results call into question the role of hydrogen bonds and suggest a much more significant role for entropic effects and van der Waals interactions in binding AFP to ice.

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