Enzymes Mechanism of Action

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Enzymes are biologic polymers that catalyze the chemical reactions that make life as we know it possible. The presence and maintenance of a complete and balanced set of enzymes is essential for the breakdown of nutrients to supply energy and chemical building blocks; the assembly of those building blocks into proteins, DNA, membranes, cells, and tissues; and the harnessing of energy to power cell motility, neural function, and muscle contraction. With the exception of catalytic RNA molecules, or ribozymes, enzymes are proteins. The ability to assay the activity of specific enzymes in blood, other tissue fluids, or cell extracts aids in the diagnosis and prognosis of disease. Deficiencies in the quantity or catalytic activity of key enzymes can result from genetic defects, nutritional deficits, or toxins. Defective enzymes can result from genetic mutations or infection by viral or bacterial pathogens (eg, Vibrio cholerae). Medical scientists address imbalances in enzyme activity by using pharmacologic agents to inhibit specific enzymes and are investigating gene therapy as a means to remedy deficits in enzyme level or function. In addition to serving as the catalysts for all metabolic processes, their impressive catalytic activity, substrate specificity, and stereospecificity enable enzymes to fulfill key roles in other processes related to human health and well-being. The absolute stereospecificity of enzymes is of particular value for use as soluble or immobilized catalysts for specific reactions in the synthesis of a drug or antibiotic. Proteolytic enzymes augment the capacity of detergents to remove dirt and stains. Enzymes play an important role in producing or enhancing the nutrient value of food products for both humans and animals. The protease rennin, for example, is utilized in the production of cheeses while lactase is employed to remove lactose from milk for the benefit of persons who suffer from lactose intolerance as a consequence of a deficiency in...
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