Special organic molecules called amino acids are used by living organisms to make proteins, and proteins are simply long chains of amino acids. Enzymes are special types of proteins also made from strings of amino acids. The enzyme's function is determined by the sequence and types of amino acids, and their shape.
The functions of cells rely on these enzymes. The enzymes help produce and speed up the chemical reactions in cells. In short, the enzymes help cells get things done. There are specific enzymes in living organisms and each have their own functions and responsibilities. The enzymes only react with the specific types of substances it was made for, so they do not cause chemical reactions where they are not supposed to occur.
Every enzyme has a special pocket on its surface called the active site. The molecule the enzyme works with fits into this pocket. The molecule is called a substrate. The chemical reaction takes place at this active site and a new molecule or substance, called the product, is then released by the enzyme.
Several variables affect enzyme activity including temperature, the pH level or acidity, concentration, and inhibitors. A higher temperature increases the chemical reaction, but if it is too high the enzyme will stop working. Very high or very low acidity will also slow the reaction or cause the reaction to stop. A high concentration will increase reaction rate. Finally, inhibitors are specially made molecules made to stop the activity of enzymes. An activator is the opposite of an inhibitor and can speed up the reaction.
Enzymes can be used over and over again and do not wear out or get used up. There are prescribed drugs, substances in nature, and poisons that act as inhibitors. Enzymes are also used in industries for food processing, paper manufacturing, and detergents. Saliva also has special enzymes that break down food as a person chews, as well as in the stomach, pancreas, and small intestine.
The human body contains thousands of enzymes, with estimates of up to 75,000 plus many more used in the biofuel, brewing, and dairy industry, as well as in other manufacturing areas.
1. Lipase: They are found in most living organisms and perform essential roles in the digestion, transport, and processing of dietary lipids, fats, oils, etc. Some may also be found in viruses.
2. Amylase: They are enzymes that helps change starches into sugars. It is present in human saliva and in some other mammals. They help with digestion of foods that contain large amounts of starch, like potatoes and rice. The enzyme turns some of the starch into sugar, which is why when a person eats potatoes a sweet taste may be experienced.
3. Maltase: Also present in saliva, as well as the pancreas, breaks down sugars to form glucose.
4. Other enzymes: Renin is used in the manufacture of cheese; cellulases and liginases help to soften paper; proteases, lipsases, and others are used in fabric softeners; catalase helps convert latex into rubber.
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