Cellular activity carrying out in the living body depends on different chemical reactions. If there is no enzyme, then the body's metabolism and other life-related reactions can only be carried out at an extremely slow rate. Under such circumstances, life activities cannot be maintained. Scientists predict that if there is no enzyme, the body temperature needs to reach about 300 °C to digest food.

The human body may lack certain enzymes for some reasons, causing the reaction catalyzed by the enzyme to be abnormal, and the corresponding substance metabolism becomes disordered, thereby causing certain diseases. For example, some people lack lactase, so they can't digest lactose properly. For this group of people, dairy products such as lactose-rich milk must be controlled and restricted. Another example is that albinism is also a hereditary disease caused by the lack of enzymes. The main cause of the disease is melanin metabolism disorder. Melanin in healthy people is synthesized by melanocytes, which contain tyrosinase, which catalyzes the conversion of tyrosine to melanin. Under the irradiation of ultraviolet rays, the catalytic activity of tyrosinase in melanocytes is enhanced, and the production of melanin is more vigorous, which is why summer is easy to tan in strong sunlight.

Of course, enzymes, as a biologically active catalyst, also have some special properties compared to other industrial catalysts. Understanding these characteristics is of great significance for us to understand enzymes, and better utilize enzymes for industrial use and production.

How Enzymes Work

Chemical reactions involve the breaking and formation of bonds between atoms. Breaking the bonds of the initial chemicals – the reactants – takes energy. That's called the activation energy. Enzymes are proteins that grab on to the reactants and orient them in such a way that the activation energy is lower. The reactants are also called substrates.

An enzyme acts to bind substrates in specific locations called active sites. Active sites are shaped in a way that allows them to latch on to specific substrates. The bound enzyme-substrate complex makes it easier for reactants to break their bonds and form new ones in the product.

Faster Reaction Rates

The actual speed of an enzyme-catalyzed reaction doesn't change. That is, the time from binding of the substrate to release of the product is the same for each particular type of enzyme. When one talks about speeding up the action of an enzyme, one means increasing the number of enzymes actively participating in chemical reactions so that the total number of reactions goes up.

For example, if there's not enough zinc to match with all of a specific type of DNA-processing enzyme in a cell, then adding more zinc will increase the reaction rate by making it possible for more enzymes to be active.

The same with adding more substrate or more enzyme: The action gets sped up by allowing more enzymes to catalyze chemical reactions, not by speeding up any one particular enzyme.

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