The inhibition of ice nucleators by insect antifreeze proteins is enhanced by glycerol and citrate
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Antifreeze proteins depress the freezing point of water while not affecting the melting point, producing a characteristic difference in freezing and melting points termed thermal hysteresis. Larvae of the beetle Dendroides canadensis accumulate potent antifreeze proteins (DAFPs) in their hemolymph and gut, but to achieve high levels of thermal hysteresis requires enhancers, such as glycerol. DAFPs have previously been shown to inhibit the activity of bacterial and hemolymph protein ice nucleators, however, the effect was not large and therefore the effectiveness of the DAFPs in promoting supercooling of the larvae in winter was doubtful. However, this study demonstrates that DAFPs, in combination with the thermal hysteresis enhancers glycerol (1 M) or citrate (0.5 M), eliminated the activity of hemolymph protein ice nucleators and Pseudomonas syringae ice-nucleating active bacteria, and lowered the supercooling points (nucleation temperatures) of aqueous solutions containing these ice nucleators to those of water or buffer alone. This shows that the DAFPs, along with glycerol, play a critical role in promoting hemolymph supercooling in overwintering D. canadensis. Also, DAFPs in combination with enhancers may be useful in applications which require inhibition of ice nucleators.
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