Navigation Links
Dance of water molecules turns fire-colored beetles into antifreeze artists

Certain plants and animals protect themselves against temperatures below freezing with antifreeze proteins. How the larva of the beetle Dendroides canadensis manages to withstand temperatures down to -30 degrees Celsius is reported by an international team of researchers led by Prof. Dr. Martina Havenith from the Department of Physical Chemistry II at the Ruhr-Universitt in the journal PNAS. Together with American colleagues, the RUB-researchers showed that interactions between the antifreeze proteins and water molecules contribute significantly to protection against the cold. Previously, it was assumed that the effect was only achieved through direct contact of the protein with ice crystals. The team obtained the results through a combination of terahertz spectroscopy and molecular dynamics simulations.

Protein-ice interaction: locally and over longer distances

The structure of the fire beetle antifreeze proteins resembles a triangular prism. The ice binding surface of the "prism" contains many exposed side chains, as fragments of the amino acid threonine protrude from the surface here. These side chains bind ice crystals. Up until now, it was assumed that the antifreeze proteins only interact locally with nano ice crystals and thus prevent the formation of larger ice crystals. The international group of researchers showed, however, that this interaction also takes place between proteins and ice crystals over longer distances via water molecules, which also contributes to the freeze-protection.

The dynamics of the water molecules is important for the freeze-protection

Close to the ice binding surface, the scientists observed a much slower movement of the water molecules, which differed significantly from the water movements on the non-ice-binding sides of the protein and of free water. The lower the temperature, the slower the water moved. "We suspect that the calmer water movement on the binding surface of the protein facilitates the docking of the nano ice crystals," Martina Havenith speculated. In accordance with this, the researchers found little change in the movement of the water molecules in an inactive mutant of the antifreeze protein.

More efficient than in fish

The antifreeze proteins of the fire-coloured beetle are ten to one hundred times more active than those of Arctic and Antarctic fish that need to protect themselves against temperatures of -1.9 degrees Celsius. The insects achieve this high antifreeze activity through the combination of the two strategies: direct interaction between proteins and ice and interaction via water molecules.

Observing the role of the solvent

"The special role of water in natural antifreeze is an excellent example demonstrating that when looking at the function of a biomolecule, you not only have to consider its 3D structure, but also its entire environment - especially the solvent; in this case water," Prof. Havenith said. This topic is the focus of the cluster of excellence RESOLV, which was launched on the 1st November 2012 at the RUB and whose spokesperson is Martina Havenith. The current studies were funded by the Volkswagen Foundation.


Contact: Martina Havenith
Ruhr-University Bochum

Related biology news :

1. A mating dance with Popeye arms
2. New stem cell technique promises abundance of key heart cells
3. Lyme retreatment guidance may be flawed
4. Microchoreography: Researchers use synthetic molecule to guide cellular dance
5. Ozone treated water v. lethal microbial material
6. Unexpected crustacean diversity discovered in northern freshwater ecosystems
7. New methods for better purification of wastewater
8. Costs for changing pollution criteria in Florida waters likely to exceed EPA estimates
9. Current water resources in Europe and Africa
10. UC research: Tracking Lake Erie water snake in fight against invasive fish
11. Study confirms oil from Deepwater Horizon disaster entered food chain in the Gulf of Mexico
Post Your Comments:
(Date:3/27/2017)... March 27, 2017  Catholic Health Services (CHS) ... Systems Society (HIMSS) Analytics for achieving Stage 6 ... sm . In addition, CHS previously earned a ... using an electronic medical record (EMR). ... level of EMR usage in an outpatient setting.  ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... , Mar 24, 2017 Research and Markets ... System Market Analysis & Trends - Industry Forecast to 2025" ... ... grow at a CAGR of around 15.1% over the next decade ... industry report analyzes the market estimates and forecasts for all the ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... Research and Markets has announced the addition ... - Industry Forecast to 2025" report to their offering. ... The Global Vehicle ... around 8.8% over the next decade to reach approximately $14.21 billion ... estimates and forecasts for all the given segments on global as ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... , Oct. 10, 2017 SomaGenics announced the ... NIH to develop RealSeq®-SC (Single Cell), expected to be ... small RNAs (including microRNAs) from single cells using NGS ... the need to accelerate development of approaches to analyze ... "New techniques for measuring levels of mRNAs ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... October 09, 2017 , ... The award-winning American Farmer television series will feature ... Farmer airs Tuesdays at 8:30aET on RFD-TV. , With global population estimates nearing ... how to continue to feed a growing nation. At the same time, many of ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... , ... October 06, 2017 ... ... experience providing advanced instruments and applications consulting for microscopy and surface analysis, ... in application consulting, Nanoscience Analytical offers a broad range of contract analysis ...
(Date:10/6/2017)... Washington, D.C. (PRWEB) , ... October 06, 2017 ... ... Cure) will host a lunch discussion and webinar on INSIGhT, the first-ever adaptive ... INSIGhT Principal Investigator, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The event is free and open to ...
Breaking Biology Technology: