What is an Enzyme?
Enzymes are biological catalysts made of proteins that facilitate and accelerate biochemical reactions in living organisms. They are essential for maintaining cellular functions, regulating metabolic pathways, and enabling various physiological processes.
Roles and Functions
Enzymes speed up biochemical reactions by reducing the activation energy required for the reaction to occur. They bind to specific reactant molecules, called substrates, and form enzyme-substrate complexes. These complexes facilitate the conversion of substrates into products, increasing the reaction rate without being consumed in the process.
Enzymes play a crucial role in regulating metabolic pathways. They can be regulated by various mechanisms, such as allosteric regulation, covalent modification, and the presence of inhibitors or activators. This allows the cell to control the rate of metabolic reactions and maintain homeostasis.
Enzymes exhibit high specificity for their substrates, enabling them to recognize and bind to specific molecules. This specificity is determined by the enzyme’s active site, a unique three-dimensional structure that complements the shape and properties of the substrate. This ensures that enzymes only catalyze specific reactions, preventing unwanted side reactions and maintaining the efficiency of cellular processes.