Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Protein Keeps Cold Fish From Becoming Frozen Flounder, New Study Shows

Date:
May 14, 2004
Source:
Queen's University
Summary:
A surprising discovery by Queen's researchers helps explain why fish swimming in icy sea water don't freeze. The team, led by Biochemistry Professor Peter Davies, has identified a new "antifreeze" protein found in the blood of winter flounder enabling the fish to withstand temperatures as low as -1.9 degrees Celsius: the freezing point of sea water.

Kingston, ON – A surprising discovery by Queen's researchers helps explain why fish swimming in icy sea water don't freeze.

The team, led by Biochemistry Professor Peter Davies, has identified a new "antifreeze" protein found in the blood of winter flounder enabling the fish to withstand temperatures as low as -1.9 degrees Celsius: the freezing point of sea water. The antifreeze plasma proteins (AFPs) do this by binding irreversibly to ice crystals and preventing them from growing.

Until now, it has been a mystery how these fish survive in polar oceans, since the previously identified "type I" AFP associated with winter flounder only provides 0.7oC of freezing point depression, which in combination with blood solutes, only protects the fish down to -1.5 degrees Celsius.

"This finally explains the 'critical gap' of 0.4 degrees," says Dr. Davies, a Queen's Canada Research Chair in Protein Engineering. "The winter flounder has been studied extensively by a number of laboratories over the past 30 years, but this antifreeze protein escaped everyone's notice. We're excited to have found it."

The research, conducted with Christopher Marshall from Queen's Department of Biochemistry and Garth Fletcher from the Ocean Sciences Centre at Memorial University, is published today in the journal Nature.

The team used a process called ice affinity purification to identify the new protein. "When you grow a 'popsicle' of ice in the presence of these proteins, the AFPs bind to the ice and become included, while other proteins are excluded," explains Mr. Marshall. "Lemon-shaped ice crystals that differed significantly from the hexagon-shaped crystals obtained with type I AFPs told us that we were dealing with an unknown antifreeze protein."

The new protein is extraordinarily active in comparison with other fish antifreeze proteins. At room temperature and at low pH values, however, it loses all activity – perhaps explaining why it remained undetected for three decades. "Prior to this we had only found such hyperactive antifreeze proteins in insects," says Dr. Davies.

Being able to control the growth of ice crystals could have a number of bio-technological and medical applications, the researchers suggest.

AFPs have been tested in the storage of organs and blood products for transplantation, where they offer protection against freezing, improving viability and extending maximum storage periods. They have also been applied in cryosurgery, a technique in which tumor cells are killed by freezing, because AFPs modify the shape of ice crystals into more destructive spicules.

This finding also opens the possibility of transferring genes from winter flounder into salmon, for example, to make them more freeze-resistant for fish farming, or into crops to make them more frost-resistant to extend their growing season. These applications could be realized with concentrations of hyperactive AFPs 10 to 100-fold lower than would be required with the previously discovered fish AFPs.

Funding for the project came from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queen's University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Queen's University. "Protein Keeps Cold Fish From Becoming Frozen Flounder, New Study Shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 May 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040514033126.htm>.
Queen's University. (2004, May 14). Protein Keeps Cold Fish From Becoming Frozen Flounder, New Study Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040514033126.htm
Queen's University. "Protein Keeps Cold Fish From Becoming Frozen Flounder, New Study Shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040514033126.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Adorable Video of Baby Rhino and Lamb Friend Playing

Adorable Video of Baby Rhino and Lamb Friend Playing

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) Gertjie the Rhino and Lammie the Lamb are teaching the world about animal conservation and friendship. TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) has the adorable video! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins