Contrasting Behavior of Antifreeze Proteins: Ice Growth Inhibitors and Ice Nucleation Promoters

Lukas Eickhoff, Katharina Dreischmeier, Assaf Zipori, Vera Sirotinskaya, Chen Adar, Naama Reicher, Ido Braslavsky, Yinon Rudich, Thomas Koop*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Several types of natural molecules interact specifically with ice crystals. Small antifreeze proteins (AFPs) adsorb to particular facets of ice crystals, thus inhibiting their growth, whereas larger ice-nucleating proteins (INPs) can trigger the formation of new ice crystals at temperatures much higher than the homogeneous ice nucleation temperature of pure water. It has been proposed that both types of proteins interact similarly with ice and that, in principle, they may be able to exhibit both functions. Here we investigated two naturally occurring antifreeze proteins, one from fish, type-III AFP, and one from beetles, TmAFP. We show that in addition to ice growth inhibition, both can also trigger ice nucleation above the homogeneous freezing temperature, providing unambiguous experimental proof for their contrasting behavior. Our analysis suggests that the predominant difference between AFPs and INPs is their molecular size, which is a very good predictor of their ice nucleation temperature.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)966-972
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry Letters
Issue number5
StatePublished - 7 Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Chemical Society.


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