How Do Enzymes Work?

By Subodh / September 3, 2014

The biological molecules that act as catalysts and result in the metabolism are called enzymes. Enzymes are extremely vital for the body as they are the primary molecules which support life. This is the reason why we need to have the healthy enzymes all the time. In fact, enzymes are also responsible for the healthy digestive system. There are numerous types of enzymes in our body and each one of them has its own purpose to serve. One particular type of enzyme only does the task it is assigned to do and does not interfere with the functions of the other enzymes. Enzymes have different tasks to take care of. There are certain types of molecules in the body which are very large and they need to be broken down in order for the body to absorb them effectively. It is the enzymes which help break the bigger molecules into smaller molecules for the easy absorption.

enzyme working

Enzymes Are Catalysts

A catalyst is something which can increase the rate of a process or reaction without undergoing any changes in its own form. While the catalyst has the capability to speed up the chemical reaction without changing its own form, it also does not change the form of chemical substances it is catalyzing. The only and only role of the enzyme is to increase the speed of the reaction. Catalysts are very common in the chemistry labs and are used very frequently. In fact, catalysis is a different branch of study altogether.

When a chemical reaction happens, the catalyst does not change the form of the components. However, after the reaction has completed the form of the component changes by the virtue of the reaction. A catalyst will just help speed up the reaction without undergoing any changes and without even getting used up.

What Is Enzyme Made Up of?

Enzyme is nothing else but a form of protein. This form of protein is found in complicated shape and structure. Enzyme is made up of large molecules which allow the smaller molecules to house in them. There is a definite shape to every enzyme just large enough to allow the smaller molecules to fit perfectly into them. Although enzymes are found in the living organisms and human beings they are not themselves alive. The enzymes cannot be killed or even destroyed. However, in the hostile conditions they may become denatured. They need the optimum conditions to continue doing their tasks effectively. Heat and pH levels determine whether an enzyme works in the right manner or not. Too high or too low pH can deform the shape of the enzyme causing it to denature. Similarly the enzymes get denatured by the high levels of temperature.

Enzymes Need Optimum Conditions To Perform Effectively And Efficiently

As already mentioned, there are two things that affect the working of the enzymes – temperature and pH level. At very low temperatures the speed of reaction goes down considerably. As the temperature increases the rate of reaction also increases. However, after a certain level high level of temperature starts denaturing the enzyme affecting the overall rate of reaction. At the normal body temperature (which is around 98 degree Fahrenheit) the enzymes give their best performance. However, when the body temperature rises (for example during fever) the enzymes start getting deformed.

pH also determines the effectiveness of the enzymes. However, the requirement of the pH level for the enzymes to work properly is not the same for all the parts of the body. For instance, the enzymes in the lungs may require a different pH level than the enzymes in the kidneys.

Different Enzymes Have Different Roles

As we have already discussed, there are different types of enzymes for different types of reactions in the body. Therefore, the enzymes working in your mouth are different from enzymes in your stomach. In fact, there could be different types of enzymes performing different roles within the same part of the body. For instance, Amylase enzyme helps in the decomposition of starch into sugar. This enzyme is present in the mouth as well as the stomach. Protease is the enzyme which is present in the stomach alongside amylase but performs a different role.