Antifreeze protein complements cryoprotective dehydration in the freeze-avoiding springtail Megaphorura arctica

Sci Rep. 2020 Feb 20;10(1):3047. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-60060-z.


The springtail, Megaphorura arctica, is freeze-avoiding and survives sub-zero temperatures by cryoprotective dehydration. At the onset of dehydration there is some supercooling of body fluids, and the danger of inoculative freezing, which would be lethal. To see if the springtails are protected by antifreeze proteins in this pre-equilibrium phase, we examined extracts from cold-acclimated M. arctica and recorded over 3 °C of freezing point depression. Proteins responsible for this antifreeze activity were isolated by ice affinity. They comprise isoforms ranging from 6.5 to 16.9 kDa, with an amino acid composition dominated by glycine (>35 mol%). Tryptic peptide sequences were used to identify the mRNA sequence coding for the smallest isoform. This antifreeze protein sequence has high similarity to one characterized in Hypogastrura harveyi, from a different springtail order. If these two antifreeze proteins are true homologs, we suggest their origin dates back to the Permian glaciations some 300 million years ago.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Antifreeze Proteins / chemistry
  • Antifreeze Proteins / metabolism*
  • Arthropods / physiology*
  • Cryoprotective Agents / metabolism*
  • Crystallization
  • DNA, Complementary / genetics
  • Dehydration / metabolism*
  • Freezing*
  • Glycine / metabolism
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism


  • Antifreeze Proteins
  • Cryoprotective Agents
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Glycine