About this Journal Submit a Manuscript Table of Contents
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 976895, 20 pages
Review Article

Bacterial Ice Crystal Controlling Proteins

Department of Biology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada N2L 3G1

Received 26 November 2013; Accepted 15 December 2013; Published 20 January 2014

Academic Editors: G. Berta and L. Chistoserdova

Copyright © 2014 Janet S. H. Lorv et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Across the world, many ice active bacteria utilize ice crystal controlling proteins for aid in freezing tolerance at subzero temperatures. Ice crystal controlling proteins include both antifreeze and ice nucleation proteins. Antifreeze proteins minimize freezing damage by inhibiting growth of large ice crystals, while ice nucleation proteins induce formation of embryonic ice crystals. Although both protein classes have differing functions, these proteins use the same ice binding mechanisms. Rather than direct binding, it is probable that these protein classes create an ice surface prior to ice crystal surface adsorption. Function is differentiated by molecular size of the protein. This paper reviews the similar and different aspects of bacterial antifreeze and ice nucleation proteins, the role of these proteins in freezing tolerance, prevalence of these proteins in psychrophiles, and current mechanisms of protein-ice interactions.