If you’re trying to understand a biochemical reaction, you may be wondering, “What is an enzyme?” Enzymes are protein molecules that speed up a process by facilitating molecular rearrangements. They’re biological catalysts that are able to carry out specific reactions with the help of a substrate. Enzymes have specific shapes, which determine how they work. They can only be activated by specific substrates, and their specific shape also affects their function. Enzymes also have an optimum pH range, so extremes in pH can denature them.
Enzymes are also highly specific, with the active site (the portion of the enzyme that binds to a substrate) being extremely specific. This fits the substrate perfectly because it complements the enzyme’s shape. In this way, each enzyme is optimized for a specific class of substrates. The key characteristic of an enzyme is its specificity. Enzymes may only bind one type of substrate, but they may be compatible with different substrate families.
Enzymes play a major role in the functioning of living cells and organisms. They serve as catalysts and regulate the rate at which biological reactions are carried out. They speed up a variety of biochemical reactions and lower the activation energy required for each reaction. They’re essential for digestion, respiration, and muscle and nerve function. So, it’s no wonder that you’ve heard so much about enzymes. But what exactly is an enzyme?
An enzyme’s active site binds to a substrate and undergoes internal rearrangements. The substrate becomes a complex with the enzyme’s products, and the enzyme releases these products into the environment. Then it is ready to react with the next substrate. This cycle repeats over again, and the products separate out from the enzyme. And if you’re wondering, what is an enzyme? Just take a quiz to find out!