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Name: Thalia
Status: Student
Grade:  9-12
Location: CA
Country: United States
Date: February 2006


Question:
How do enzymes break down enzymes?



Replies:
Hi Thalia.

Enzymes are simply proteins, so they can be broken down just like any other type of molecule. It doesn't matter if the molecule is a carbohydrate (lactose by lactase), fat (by lipases) or any other type of protein (like steak by pepsin).

The mechanism of enzyme action is basically the same across the wide range of enzymes that can be found.

First the enzyme must have an active site specific for the substrate it helps to change. This is a special area of the enzyme, usually a pocket or cleft that the substrate is complementary to and can fit into, just like a phone into a recharger.

Once the substrate is in the active site of the enzyme, the enzyme bends or twists the substrate into a position (conformation) that favors a chemical reaction to take place.

This is called lowering the activation energy of the substrate. After the reaction is done, the enzyme releases the substrate that is now chemically different and is called the product. The enzyme is not changed during the reaction and is now unbound and free to participate in another reaction.

Our bodies use tons of enzymes to speed up (catalyze) the metabolic events in our cells that would normally occur so slowly that we would not be able to live!!! Thank goodness for enzymes!

Hope this helps and study hard-

Stephen A. Sardino Jr.



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