Temperatures can get cold. And living organisms have to find ways of keeping themselves warm. Humans use clothes. Polar bears grow fur. Whales are lined with blubber. And many animals avoid the cold by migrating to warmer parts of the planet. But for cold-blooded animals - such as fish - things are sometimes more complicated. Especially when they live in waters which are ice-cold, on a seasonal basis or not. The formation of ice in an organism is dangerous because it can damage cells irreversibly. To solve this problem, Nature thought up an antifreeze system which hinders ice formation: antifreeze proteins. There are all sorts of antifreeze proteins but one is particularly special - Maxi - and keeps fish alive in waters as cold as - 1.9 °C. As its name suggests, it is much larger than the other antifreeze proteins known to date, but it also behaves very differently. What is more, its 3D structure has shed a very different light on the way the core of a protein is formed.
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Snapshot : Resilin
As Spring emerges, Nature is gently awakening. And insects will soon be engaged in all kinds of athletic and sonorous feats. Amongst which, the flea and its jump. Fleas can reach up to 30cm, which may not sound much yet such a performance represents 150 times their size – something no Olympic champion could achieve! And as the fleas make joyful leaps, cicadas sing songs and dragonfly beat their wings.
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