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Graduate Defense: Emily Vernon

May 17 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm MDT

Thesis Defense

Thesis Information

Title: Effects Of Antifreeze Proteins On Lipid Membrane Stabilization At Cold Temperatures

Program: Master of Science in Biomolecular Sciences

Advisor: Dr. Konrad Meister, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Committee Members: Dr. Daniel Fologea, Physics and Dr. Oliviero Andreussi, Chemistry and Biochemistry


Cold-adapted organisms use antifreeze proteins (AFPs) and antifreeze glycoproteins (AFGPs) to enable survival in freezing habitats. AF(G)Ps have been proposed to prevent leakage of intracellular metabolites by stabilizing cellular membranes, a property that could be of great physiological and biomedical relevance. The generality of this effect is not understood, and for the known examples of membrane leakage prevention by AF(G)Ps, the mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we report a comprehensive evaluation of the effects of different AFPs on the leakage of ions and dyes from model membrane systems. We find that leakage is best prevented by AFGPs, while insect AFPs showed negligible effects. Reduction of antifreeze activities of AFGPs further showed no effect on membrane leakage inhibition activities. Thus, the ability to stabilize membranes through phase transitions is not an intrinsic property of AF(G)Ps, and the interactions proceed through protein-specific mechanisms that are decoupled from general antifreeze activities.