Enzymes are proteins that act as catalysts to speed up chemical reactions in the body. They are unique and cannot be destroyed this means that they only work on particular substrates and can be re-used over and over again. There are also different types of enzymes, namely, digestive, metabolic and food enzymes. An example of a digestive enzyme is Lactase. Also called lactase-phlorizin hydrolase, Lactase helps to break down lactose, a disaccharide, into the monosaccharaides glucose and galactose by hydrolysis. A lock and key diagram below shows how the substrate, lactose, reacts with the active site, lactase, to form products, glucose and galactose. The diagram below also outlines how enzymes such as lactase are specific.
During the early stages of a human’s life, lactase is particularly abundant. Lactose is present is milk and other dairy products; it gives milk its sweetness. Cells known as enterocytes that line the walls of the small intestine produce lactase. The LCT gene provides instructions for making lactase in the body, which ensures the complete digestion of milk. The reaction that takes place when lactase helps to break down lactose is shown below:
This lactase is naturally produced in our bodies however sometimes lactase is commercially produced for people who are lactose intolerant also called lactase deficient. Lactose intolerant people are not able to digest or break down lactose. This mainly takes place when the small intestine does...
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