AstroBio Seminars

Strona Polskiego Towarzystwa Astrobiologicznego.

Upcoming Seminar:

Date: 17.12.2023

Time: 19:00 (CET)

Deep biosphere microbial protein interactions with clathrates

Abigail Johnson
Dustin Huard

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Exoplanets, Technologies, Biology, Physics, Engineering, Art, Literature, Philosophy…

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These are only a small handful of topics discussed during the seminars of the Polish Astrobiology Society

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Missed a meeting? No worries!

Upcoming seminar:
17.12.2023, 19:00 – YouTube

AstroBio Guest:
Abigail Johnson
Dustin Huard

Deep biosphere microbial protein interactions with clathrates


Methane clathrates along continental margins and in permafrost store thousands of gigatons of carbon in sediments and serve as a habitat for a unique deep subsurface biosphere. We hypothesized that clathrate-dwelling microbes utilize clathrate-binding proteins (CBPs) that enable them to inhabit the extreme environment of methane clathrates in a manner analogous to antifreeze proteins (AFPs). We identified a number of candidate CBPs, or CbpAs, in metagenomes from gas clathrate-bearing sediment that contain the TxxxAxxxAxx motif found in canonical Type I AFPs from cold water fish; this motif enables Type I AFPs to inhibit gas clathrate growth. Recombinantly expressed CbpAs were shown to bind to and alter the morphology of tetrahydrofuran (THF) clathrate, a structure II clathrate that is stable at atmospheric pressures and 4˚C. Importantly, CbpAs inhibit the growth of biologically relevant methane clathrate, and are as effective at inhibition as commercial clathrate inhibitors. Structural characterization of CbpA3 and molecular dynamics simulations revealed an unprecedented protein fold and clathrate-binding mechanism different from Type I AFPs. The discovery of clathrate-binding proteins in gas clathrate-bearing sediments has many implications for climate change, natural gas pipeline flow assurance and transport, microbial survival strategies, and the search for life on other planetary bodies.