Expression and characterization of an antifreeze protein from the perennial rye grass, Lolium perenne
Lauersen, Kyle J.
Davies, Peter L.
Walker, Virginia K.
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Antifreeze proteins (AFP) are an evolutionarily diverse class of stress response products best known in certain metazoans that adopt a freeze-avoidance survival strategy. The perennial ryegrass, Lolium perenne (Lp), cannot avoid winter temperatures below the crystallization point and is thought to use its LpAFP in a freeze-tolerant strategy. In order to examine properties of LpAFP in relation to L. perenne's life history, cDNA cloning, recombinant protein characterization, ice-binding activities, gene copy number, and expression responses to low temperature were examined. Transcripts, encoded by only a few gene copies, appeared to increase in abundance after diploid plants were transferred to 4°C for 1-2 days, and in parallel with the ice recrystallization inhibition activities. Circular dichroism spectra of recombinant LpAFP showed three clear folding transition temperatures including one between 10 and 15°C, suggesting to us that folding modifications of the secreted AFP could allow the targeted degradation of the protein in planta when temperatures increase. Although LpAFP showed low thermal hysteresis activity and partitioning into ice, it was similar to AFPs from freeze-avoiding organisms in other respects. Therefore, the type of low temperature resistance strategy adopted by a particular species may not depend on the type of AFP. The independence of AFP sequence and life-history has practical implications for the development of genetically-modified crops with enhanced freeze tolerance.