Enzyme Background Paper
THE STRUCTURE AND FUNCTIONS OF ENZYMES
Enzymes are extremely important to the human body and its ability to function. An enzyme itself is a protein made by the body’s cells to act as catalyst, speeding up chemical reactions in the cell. It does this by taking the reactants, or the elements or compounds that enter into the chemical reaction, in this situation referred to as substrates, and breaking apart their bonds so that new ones can form. The three types of enzymes are digestive enzymes, food enzymes, and metabolic enzymes. Metabolic enzymes are found all throughout the body, helping grow new cells and maintaining tissues. They are made to do what it takes to keep the body healthy. Food enzymes are found naturally in the food we eat, when raw, but are destroyed at high temperatures, a reason why we cook food. Digestive enzymes are found in the body’s organs, but could also be considered a metabolic enzyme. They, obviously, deal with digestion, very much like food enzymes. A difference in the two is one comes from an external source while the other doesn’t. We do know that we do not, in fact, have an everlasting supply of enzymes. Instead, in an example concerning digestive enzymes, “Researchers now know that we lose.. enzymes through sweat and body waste.” (EnzymeEssentials 2013). An example of an enzyme found in the human body would be lactase, an protein that breaks down lactose, or milk sugars. Enzymes are made up of amino acids, which are compounds made up of an amino group (-NH2) and a carboxyl group (-COOH), and are the essential building blocks of proteins, the polymers of these molecules. Proteins change into certain shapes to do the work they were made to do, and the process of the protein acquiring its most functional form is called protein folding. Enzymes, also proteins, are the same way. Found in the cells, enzymes are shaped in a way that it creates an entry way, called the
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