Antifreeze Proteins and Their Practical Utilization in Industry, Medicine, and Agriculture

Biomolecules. 2020 Dec 9;10(12):1649. doi: 10.3390/biom10121649.


Antifreeze proteins (AFPs) are specific proteins, glycopeptides, and peptides made by different organisms to allow cells to survive in sub-zero conditions. AFPs function by reducing the water's freezing point and avoiding ice crystals' growth in the frozen stage. Their capability in modifying ice growth leads to the stabilization of ice crystals within a given temperature range and the inhibition of ice recrystallization that decreases the drip loss during thawing. This review presents the potential applications of AFPs from different sources and types. AFPs can be found in diverse sources such as fish, yeast, plants, bacteria, and insects. Various sources reveal different α-helices and β-sheets structures. Recently, analysis of AFPs has been conducted through bioinformatics tools to analyze their functions within proper time. AFPs can be used widely in various aspects of application and have significant industrial functions, encompassing the enhancement of foods' freezing and liquefying properties, protection of frost plants, enhancement of ice cream's texture, cryosurgery, and cryopreservation of cells and tissues. In conclusion, these applications and physical properties of AFPs can be further explored to meet other industrial players. Designing the peptide-based AFP can also be done to subsequently improve its function.

Keywords: antifreeze glycopeptide; antifreeze protein; application; ice recrystallization inhibition; psychrophiles; thermal hysteresis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / methods*
  • Animals
  • Antifreeze Proteins / chemistry*
  • Antifreeze Proteins / classification
  • Antifreeze Proteins / physiology*
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Cryopreservation / methods*
  • Cryosurgery / methods
  • Crystallization
  • Fishes / metabolism
  • Food Technology / methods*
  • Freezing
  • Fungi / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Ice / analysis
  • Insecta / metabolism
  • Plants / metabolism
  • Protein Conformation, alpha-Helical
  • Protein Conformation, beta-Strand


  • Antifreeze Proteins
  • Ice