Influence of Antifreeze Proteins on the Ice/Water Interface

Antifreeze proteins (AFP) are responsible for the survival of several species, ranging from bacteria to fish, that encounter subzero temperatures in their living environment. AFPs have been divided into two main families, moderately and hyperactive, depending on their thermal hysteresis activity. We have studied one protein from both families, the AFP from the snow flea (sfAFP) and from the winter flounder (wfAFP), which belong to the hyperactive and moderately active family, respectively. On the basis of molecular dynamics simulations, we have estimated the thickness of the water/ice interface for systems both with and without the AFPs attached onto the ice surface. The calculation of the diffusion profiles along the simulation box allowed us to measure the interface width for different ice planes. The obtained widths clearly show a different influence of the two AFPs on the ice/water interface. The different impact of the AFPs here studied on the interface thickness can be related to two AFPs properties: the protein hydrophobic surface and the number of hydrogen bonds that the two AFPs faces form with water molecules.