Experimental results show that fish antifreeze glycopeptides (AFGPs) 8 and 7 (with 4 and 5 repeats respectively of the Ala-Ala-Thr backbone sequence) bond onto ice prism planes aligned along a-axes, and inhibit crystal growth on prism planes and on surfaces close to that orientation. The 9.31-A repeat spacing of the AFGP in the polyproline II helix configuration, deduced from NMR studies, matches twice the repeat spacing of ice in the deduced alignment direction, 9.038 A, within 3%. A specific binding model is proposed for the AFGP and for the alpha-helical antifreeze peptide of winter flounder. For AFGP 7–8, two hydroxyl groups of each disaccharide (one disaccharide is attached to each threonine) reside within the ice surface, so that they are shared between the ice crystal and the disaccharide. This provides 24 hydrogen bonds between AFGP 8 and the ice and 30 for AFGP 7, explaining why the chemical adsorption is virtually irreversible and the crystal growth can be stopped virtually completely. The same scheme of sharing polar groups with the ice works well with the alpha-helical antifreeze of winter flounder, for which an amide as well as several hydroxyls are shared. The sharing of polar groups with the ice crystal, rather than hydrogen-bonding to the ice surface, may be a general requirement for adsoprtion-inhibition of freezing.
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