Antifreeze proteins (AFPs) and antifreeze glycoproteins (AFGPs), collectively abbreviated as AF(G)Ps, are synthesized by various organisms to enable their cells to survive in subzero environments. Although the AF(G)Ps are markedly diverse in structure, they all function by adsorbing to the surface of embryonic ice crystals to inhibit their growth. This adsorption results in a freezing temperature depression without an appreciable change in the melting temperature. The difference between the melting and freezing temperatures, termed thermal hysteresis (TH), is used to detect and quantify the antifreeze activity. Insights from crystallographic structures of a number of AFPs have led to a good understanding of the ice-protein interaction features. Computational studies have focused either on verifying a specific model of AFP-ice interaction or on understanding the protein-induced changes in the ice crystal morphology. In order to explain the origin of TH, we propose a novel two-dimensional adsorption kinetic model between AFPs and ice crystal surfaces. The validity of the model has been demonstrated by reproducing the TH curve on two different Β -helical AFPs upon increasing the protein concentration. In particular, this model is able to accommodate the change in the TH behavior observed experimentally when the size of the AFPs is increased systematically. Our results suggest that in addition to the specificity of the AFPs for the ice, the coverage of the AFPs on the ice surface is an equally necessary condition for their TH activity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics