Enzymes are proteins found in living things that speed up chemical reactions. They aid in nearly all metabolic processes, such as food digestion, molecule synthesis, and the storage/ release of energy. An enzyme speeds up the rate of the chemical reactions by lowering the reaction’s activation energy, which means that by definition, an enzyme functions as biological catalyst. The activation energy is the energy that is used to get a reaction started. The function of an enzyme is dependent on its shape, and the organization of the amino acids. Since enzymes are proteins, their structure involves four different levels- primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary. Inhibitors can bind to an enzyme to prevent it from binding with its complementary substrate, or change the shape of the enzyme which is called denaturing. The shape of enzyme is very dependent on the function, because if the shape is changes, the enzyme is no longer complementary to its substrate that allows it to complete its job. Enzymes are recyclable, and they have to do their job very efficiently, and if their shape is altered, this is no longer possible. The reactants of an enzymatic reaction are the enzyme itself, and the substrates. Together these reactants bond at their activation site, the edges of the two reactants that are complementary to each other, so that only those specific substrates can bond to that enzyme, like a lock and key. This critical relationship is known as the enzyme-substrate complex. The products produced can either be larger, or smaller than the original substrate, as the enzyme can either break down, or combine two substrates. When the substrates are broken down, energy is released. Oppositely, when substrates are joined together, energy is absorbed. These reactions can either be endothermic, or exothermic. An endothermic reaction is when energy is absorbed, and the products are larger than the original reactants. This type of reaction has
Citations: Enzymatic reaction between sucrose (yellow) and sucrase (purple) yielding glucose (orange) and fructose (pink). Digital image. The Encyclopedia of Science. David Darling, n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2013. "ENZYMES." ENZYMES. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2013. . Miller, Kenneth R., and Joseph S. Levine. Prentice Hall Biology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008. Print.