Have you ever wondered who discovered enzymes?
Well, enzymes were actually discovered accidently by a scientist known as Eduard Buchner in 1897 (that was just a little known fact that the video failed to mention).
Ok, now you may be thinking how was it discovered?
Like any other discovery it was by accident. Buchner was interested in how yeast could convert sugar to alcohol but more specifically he had the idea that yeast may contain proteins. Basically he proved that fermentation actually occurred by what is known to be enzymes.
This video explains with a suitable example the function of enzymes…
What are enzymes?
Enzymes are proteins but they can also be RNA molecules. A familiar function of enzymes are as catalyst which serves to speed up a reaction, without enzymes chemical reactions would be too slow which would not make life possible.
Enzymes as catalyst:
Enzymes are specific and only work for a specific reaction, for example proteinase which hydrolyzes peptide bonds. So, an enzyme-catalyzed reaction occurs when an the enzyme binds to the substrate to form a complex. The enzyme has an area known as the active site where the substrate binds. After this occurs the enzyme may undergo minute changes to accommodate the substrate this is described as the
induced fit. As this occurs it lowers the activation energy, i.e. the minimum energy required to allow the reaction to proceed.
The affects of temperature, pH on the enzyme…
In chemicals reactions as the temperature increases, the rate of the reaction also increases. However, this is not the case with enzymes, instead as the temperature increases the denaturation of the enzyme occurs. Therefore the optimal temperature for the enzymes to work in the human body is 37°C.
pH is the measure of the H+ concentration. The pH meter ranges from 1 to 14 that is acidic-neutral- alkaline. Enzymes work in the optimum pH of 6 to 8. However, pepsin is the exception, since it needs a pH of 2 which is in gastric juice. Changes in the pH affect the complex particularly when the substrate binds to the enzyme as well as the rate of the breakdown of the complex. Note that buffers in the system adjust the change in pH.


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