X-Message-Number: 31460
From: "J Coetzee MSc" <>
References: <>
Subject: 'Snow Flea Antifreeze Protein' 
Date: Mon, 9 Mar 2009 06:02:25 -0500

'Snow Flea Antifreeze Protein' Could Help Improve Organ Preservation

ScienceDaily (July 25, 2008) - Scientists in Illinois and Pennsylvania are 
reporting development of a way to make the antifreeze protein that enables 
billions of Canadian snow fleas to survive frigid winter temperatures. Their 
laboratory-produced first-of-a-kind proteins could have practical uses in 
extending the storage life of donor organs and tissues for human 
transplantation, according to new research.

In the study, Stephen B. H. Kent and colleagues point out that scientists 
have tried for years to decipher the molecular structure and produce from 
chemicals in a laboratory the so-called "snow flea antifreeze protein 
(sfAFP)." Those steps are critical for obtaining larger amounts of the 
protein, which exists naturally in only minute quantities in snow fleas. The 
larger synthetic quantities can be used for further research and potential 
medical and commercial uses, they say.

The researchers made synthetic sfAFP, and showed that it has the same 
activity as the natural protein. They also produced variants, including one 
form of sfAFP with a molecular architecture that is the reverse, or "mirror 
image," of natural sfAFP and different from any other protein found in 
living things on Earth.

The mirror-image form of sfAFP appears less likely to trigger harmful 
antibodies and more resistant to destruction by natural enzymes, making it 
potentially more effective than the native form for use in organ and tissue 
preservation, the scientists note. "Our most significant advance was the use 
of the two mirror image forms of the protein to determine the previously 
unknown crystal structure of this unique protein," said Kent. "That is a 
first in the history of protein X-ray crystallography." 

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