Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Finding may end a 30-year scientific debate

12.04.2011
A chance observation by a Queen’s researcher might have ended a decades-old debate about the precise way antifreeze proteins (AFP) bind to the surface of ice crystals.

“We got a beautiful view of water bound to the ice-binding site on the protein,” says Peter Davies, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and a world leader in antifreeze protein research. “In a sense we got a lucky break.”

AFPs are a class of proteins that bind to the surface of ice crystals and prevent further growth and recrystallization of ice. Fish, insects, bacteria and plants that live in sub-zero environments all rely on AFPs to survive. AFPs are also important to many industries, including ice cream and frozen yogurt production which relies on AFPs to control ice-crystal growth.

The implications of this finding reach far beyond creating low-fat, high water-content ice cream that maintains a rich, creamy texture. Having a clear idea of how AFPs bind to the surface of ice crystals would allow researchers and industries to engineer strong, versatile AFPs with countless commercial applications ranging from increasing the freeze tolerance of crops to enhancing the preservation of transplant organs and tissues.

While determining the crystal structure of an AFP from an Antarctic bacterium, biochemistry doctoral candidate Christopher Garnham was fortunate enough to see an exposed ice-binding site—a rare find in the field of AFP crystallography that Mr. Garnham studies.

The ice binding surface of an AFP contains both hydrophobic or ‘water repelling’ groups as well as hydrophilic or ‘water loving’ groups. Until now, the exact function of these counter-acting forces with respect to ice-binding was unknown.

While the presence of water repellent sites can appear counterintuitive on a protein that bonds with ice, Mr. Garnham and Dr. Davies are hypothesizing that the function of these water repellent sites is to force water molecules near the surface of the protein into an ice-like cage that mirrors the pattern of water molecules on the surface of the ice crystal. The water-loving sites on the protein's surface then anchor this ice-like cage to the protein via hydrogen bonds. Not until the ordered waters are anchored to the AFP is it able to bond to ice.

This research will be published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Christina Archibald | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.queensu.ca/news/articles/finding-may-end-30-year-scientific-debate

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Let the good tubes roll

19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation

19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>