Ice-Binding Proteins and Their Function

Annu Rev Biochem. 2016 Jun 2;85:515-42. doi: 10.1146/annurev-biochem-060815-014546. Epub 2016 Apr 25.


Ice-binding proteins (IBPs) are a diverse class of proteins that assist organism survival in the presence of ice in cold climates. They have different origins in many organisms, including bacteria, fungi, algae, diatoms, plants, insects, and fish. This review covers the gamut of IBP structures and functions and the common features they use to bind ice. We discuss mechanisms by which IBPs adsorb to ice and interfere with its growth, evidence for their irreversible association with ice, and methods for enhancing the activity of IBPs. The applications of IBPs in the food industry, in cryopreservation, and in other technologies are vast, and we chart out some possibilities.

Keywords: anchored clathrate waters; antifreeze proteins; ice-binding site; ice-structuring proteins; thermal hysteresis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Antifreeze Proteins / chemistry*
  • Antifreeze Proteins / genetics
  • Antifreeze Proteins / metabolism
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Cold Temperature
  • Cryopreservation / methods*
  • Food Storage / methods
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Ice / analysis*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Plants / genetics
  • Plants / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Domains
  • Protein Engineering
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Yeasts / genetics
  • Yeasts / metabolism


  • Antifreeze Proteins
  • Ice