Konrad Meister, Ph. D. is Assistant Professor of Chemistry.
Ice Nucleation Activity of Perfluorinated Organic Acids.Perfluorinated acids (PFAs) are widely used synthetic chemical compounds, highly resistant to environmental degradation. The widespread PFA contamination in remote regions such as the High Arctic implies currently not understood long-range atmospheric transport pathways. Here, we report that perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) initiates heterogeneous ice nucleation at temperatures as high as −16 °C. In contrast, the eight-carbon octanoic acid, perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, and deprotonated PFOA showed poor ice nucleating capabilities. The ice nucleation ability of PFOA correlates with the formation of a PFOA monolayer at the air−water interface, suggesting a mechanism in which the aligned hydroxyl groups of the carboxylic acid moieties provide a lattice matching to ice. The ice nucleation capabilities of fluorinated compounds like PFOA might be relevant for cloud glaciation in the atmosphere and the removal of these persistent pollutants by wet deposition.
Disaccharide Residues are Required for Native Antifreeze Glycoprotein Activity.Antifreeze glycoproteins (AFGPs) are able to bind to ice, halt its growth, and are the most potent inhibitors of ice recrystallization known. The structural basis for AFGP’s unique properties remains largely elusive. Here we determined the antifreeze activities of AFGP variants that we constructed by chemically modifying the hydroxyl groups of the disaccharide of natural AFGPs. Using nuclear magnetic resonance, two-dimensional infrared spectroscopy, and circular dichroism, the expected modifications were confirmed as well as their effect on AFGPs solution structure. We find that the presence of all the hydroxyls on the disaccharides is a requirement for the native AFGP hysteresis as well as the maximal inhibition of ice recrystallization. The saccharide hydroxyls are apparently as important as the acetyl group on the galactosamine, the α-linkage between the disaccharide and threonine, and the methyl groups on the threonine and alanine. We conclude that the use of hydrogen-bonding through the hydroxyl groups of the disaccharide and hydrophobic interactions through the polypeptide backbone are equally important in promoting the antifreeze activities observed in the native AFGPs. These important criteria should be considered when designing synthetic mimics.