Ice-binding proteins that accumulate on different ice crystal planes produce distinct thermal hysteresis dynamics

Ran Drori, Yeliz Celik, Peter L. Davies, Ido Braslavsky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Ice-binding proteins that aid the survival of freeze-avoiding, cold-adapted organisms by inhibiting the growth of endogenous ice crystals are called anti-freeze proteins (AFPs). The binding of AFPs to ice causes a separation between the melting point and the freezing point of the ice crystal (thermal hysteresis, TH). TH produced by hyperactive AFPs is an order of magnitude higher than that produced by a typical fish AFP. The basis for this difference in activity remains unclear. Here, we have compared the time dependence of TH activity for both hyperactive and moderately active AFPs using a custom-made nanolitre osmometer and a novel microfluidics system. We found that the TH activities of hyperactive AFPs were time-dependent, and that the TH activity of a moderate AFP was almost insensitive to time. Fluorescence microscopy measurement revealed that despite their higher TH activity, hyperactive AFPs from two insects (moth and beetle) took far longer to accumulate on the ice surface than did a moderately active fish AFP. An ice-binding protein from a bacterium that functions as an ice adhesin rather than as an antifreeze had intermediate TH properties. Nevertheless, the accumulation of this ice adhesion protein and the two hyperactive AFPs on the basal plane of ice is distinct and extensive, but not detectable for moderately active AFPs. Basal ice plane binding is the distinguishing feature of antifreeze hyperactivity, which is not strictly needed in fish that require only approximately 1°C of TH. Here, we found a correlation between the accumulation kinetics of the hyperactive AFP at the basal plane and the time sensitivity of the measured TH.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number20140526
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number98
StatePublished - 6 Sep 2014


  • Antifreeze proteins
  • Ice-binding
  • Thermal hysteresis


Dive into the research topics of 'Ice-binding proteins that accumulate on different ice crystal planes produce distinct thermal hysteresis dynamics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this