Marine Biology

, 165:181 | Cite as

Gene expression of antifreeze protein in relation to historical distributions of Myoxocephalus fish species

  • A. YamazakiEmail author
  • Y. Nishimiya
  • S. Tsuda
  • K. Togashi
  • H. Munehara
Original paper


Gene expression of antifreeze proteins (AFPs) facilitates various species of fish to survive in near-freezing seawater. The marine sculpin genus Myoxocephalus (Teleostei; Perciformes) is widely distributed from Arctic to Subarctic and is known to express type I AFP. Here, we clarify gene structures and the antifreeze activity of three Myoxocephalus species and discuss their cold adaptation and their geographic movements across a global-level time scale. These fishes were collected during winter in 2014–2015 at Hokkaido and Alaska. A total of 14–16 amino acid sequences were determined as type I AFP, some of which exhibit the same amino acid sequence among species. The Subarctic species contains many amino acid sequences, and the antifreeze activities are lowest. In contrast, the Arctic species contains a few active proteins. Mitochondrial DNA analysis suggests that the Atlantic and Arctic species migrated to those oceans 7.9 and 3.0 million years ago (Mya), respectively. Since the AFP sequences of Myoxocephalus are similar to each other regardless of their difference in the timing of migration, the ancestral species of this genus may have developed the AFP gene(s) approximately 7.9 Mya, before speciation within the genus. It is speculated that these sculpins survived the cold environment in the Arctic Ocean during the Pliocene–Pleistocene by acquisition of the type I AFP in their body fluids.



We appreciate associate Prof. H. Kondo and Dr. Y. Hanada for their useful advice on antifreeze protein analyses. We also thank Prof. Y. Koya, assistant Prof. S. Awata, and Mr. N. Sato, the owner of the dive shop “GruntSculpin”, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Mac Enterprise, and graduate students of Usujiri Fisheries Station for sampling assistance. Lastly, we appreciate two anonymous reviewers for their useful advice.


This study was funded by Hokkaido University Grant for Research Activities Abroad, Research Fellow of Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS Research Fellow), and a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research from JSPS (Grant-in-Aid 26-1530, 15K13760, 25304011, 26292098).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national, and institutional guidelines for the use of animals were followed. All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution or practice at which the studies were conducted. Collecting permits were provided by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The fishes sampled for the study were acquired by fishing and scuba diving.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 1872 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (DOCX 111 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Yamazaki
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Y. Nishimiya
    • 3
  • S. Tsuda
    • 3
  • K. Togashi
    • 1
  • H. Munehara
    • 4
  1. 1.Graduate School of Environmental SciencesHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan
  2. 2.Nanae Fresh-Water Station, Field Science Center for Northern BiosphereHokkaido UniversityHokkaidoJapan
  3. 3.Bioproduction Research Institute, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and TechnologySapporoJapan
  4. 4.Usujiri Fisheries Station, Field Science Center for Northern BiosphereHokkaido UniversityHakodateJapan

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