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The Progresses of Studies on Antifreeze Proteins

WU Jian-min~1, XING Hua~{1, 2}, ZHAO Zhi-guang~1, AN Li-zhe~{1, 3} (1. School of Life Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou Gansu 730000, China; 2. College of Agronomy, Gansu AgricultureUniversity, Lanzhou Gansu 730070, China; 3. Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and EngineeringResearch Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou Gansu 730000, China)  
Antifreeze proteins (AFPs) are a type of proteins, which exhibit thermal hysteresis activity and inhibit the recrystallization of ice. They were induced under environmental stress and can increase the plant resistance to freezing. AFPs have been found in many freezing-tolerant organisms, including fish, insects, terrestrial arthropods, bacteria, fungi and plants. Until now, several AFPs have been isolated and characterized and five full-length AFP cDNAs have been cloned and characterized in high plants. Among these plant AFPs, the amino acid sequences have shown low homology. In addition, it was found that plant AFPs also could be induced by other factors such as drought, ethylene and abscisic acid besides low temperature. In this review, firstly, the discovery, physiological-biochemical characteristics, tissular and cellular localization, physiological functions, mechanism of interactions with ice crystals, structural model of plant AFPs are discussed; secondly, the application of plant AFPs in agriculture, medicine and food industry is also summarized.
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