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Biology – How Enzymes Work

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You has been chewing rice for a long time, If you’ve ever done it, surely over time the rice you chew tastes sweet, right? Do you know the reason why the rice can taste sweet? This happens because rice is starch, aka complex carbohydrates, which are the products of plant photosynthesis to store excess glucose.

Well, when we start chewing rice in our mouths, there is a function of the amylase enzyme from our saliva which breaks down starch in rice into maltose, a simpler carbohydrate group. The way the maltose enzyme works is what has a sweet taste when we chew starch like rice.

This is what distinguishes rice from sugar. When we eat sugar, the sweet taste of sugar is immediately felt when the sugar enters our mouth. The sweet taste can be felt immediately because sugar is composed of simple carbohydrate compounds.

While rice, which is a complex carbohydrate, requires the help of the enzyme amylase to create a sweet taste. Eh, but what is an enzyme? What are the functions of enzymes that you know? So that you understand what enzymes are and how they work, let’s just talk about it, let’s go!

Get to know the function of enzymes and the factors that influence how enzymes work

Some of you may have been asked to explain how enzymes work, the structure of enzymes and the factors that affect the work of enzymes, right? So, so you don’t get confused, you should pay attention to the following discussion about enzymes:

enzyme. source:

Relationship of Enzymes, Substrates, and Products

Enzymes are protein compounds produced by the cells of living things. That’s why humans, animals, and plants have a protein called this enzyme in their bodies. In general, the function of this enzyme is to assist and speed up metabolic processes in the body, which in biology is referred to as a biocatalyst. There are two types of metabolic processes in our body, namely catabolism and anabolism. Catabolism is a metabolic process that breaks down complex substances into simpler ones, while anabolism is a metabolic process that forms complex substances from simple ones.

Well, the way enzymes work in our bodies has a role in both these metabolic processes. When an enzyme acts, the initial substance before the reaction occurs is called the substrate and the resulting substance is called the product. For example, in the process we eat rice earlier. The starch in rice is the substrate, while maltose is the product.

Enzyme Nomenclature

There are many properties of the enzyme, not only amylase that breaks down starch. There are so many enzymes in our body. The function of each enzyme is also different. For example, in addition to the amylase enzyme mentioned earlier, there is also a lipase enzyme whose function is to break down fats and proteases that break down proteins.

To make it easy to remember, each enzyme name is adjusted to its substrate and is given the -ase suffix. So, if the substrate is starch, the enzyme is called amylase. If the substrate is fat or lipid, the enzyme is called lipase. If it’s protein, it’s a protease, while if it’s fructose, it’s fructose. Now, if the substrate is cellulose, you can guess what the name of the enzyme is, right? Yup! Cellulase. Easy, right, memorizing it?

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you can also read this article from this articel to see human digestion system enzyme

Enzyme Classification

Just as we have a place to live, the enzymes in our body also have a place to live in our body. The residence of these enzymes is adjusted to the function of their respective enzymes. There are intracellular enzymes and there are extracellular enzymes.

Intracellular enzymes are enzymes that reside in living cells. An example is catalase. This catalase enzyme can break down toxins such as hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) into water molecules (H2O) and oxygen (O2) which are harmless to our bodies. Because of this function, the enzyme catalase can mostly be found in liver, heart, kidney, bone marrow, and blood cells.

Well, if extracellular enzymes are enzymes that live outside the cell. These extracellular enzymes are usually produced by the glands of our body. For example, the amylase enzyme is produced by the salivary glands in our oral cavity. So, this amylase enzyme works outside the body’s cells or extracellularly.

Enzyme Components and Structure

Do you know how enzymes can speed up metabolic reactions in living things? To be able to carry out metabolic processes, the body requires a lot of energy. With the presence of enzymes, energy requirements can be reduced because enzymes can accelerate the occurrence of metabolic reactions.

Before we know how enzymes work, we must first know the parts of enzymes. In terms of shape, enzymes have two sides. There is an active site, where the substrate is bound, and there is an inactive or allosteric site. Then the enzyme is composed of two different components. There are apoenzymes made of protein and there are prosthetic groups made of non-protein material.

Apoenzyme is the main component of the enzyme that will react with the substrate. Actually, with only apoenzyme enzymes can work, but the reaction will be very slow, aka long. So the enzyme must be equipped with a second component, aka a prosthetic group. This prosthetic group can be made of two types of ions, namely organic ions and inorganic ions.

If the prosthetic group is an organic ion, the prosthetic group is called a coenzyme. For example, there are vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin H, NAD, and FAD. That’s why vitamins are important for our bodies. Because some of the vitamins we consume help enzymes to work. Well, this coenzyme functions to move chemical groups, atoms, and electrons from one molecule to another, so that the metabolic process becomes smoother.

But if the prosthetic group is an inorganic ion, then the prosthetic group is called a cofactor. Some of the cofactors present in enzymes are calcium (Ca), chlorine (Cl), sodium (Na), and potassium (K). Well, the cofactor usually pairs with the apoenzyme to form a new structure called the holoenzyme. When this holoenzyme is formed, it goes up one level, so the enzyme can work optimally.

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How Enzymes Work

When there is a substrate to be broken down, such as starch, for a reaction to occur, the enzyme and the substrate must complement each other, such as a lock and key. We think of this lock as an enzyme and this key as a substrate. So, if you want both to work, the lock and key must be paired. Meanwhile, if the key is wrong, yes, the lock won’t open, right?

how enzyme work
how enzyme work source : khan academy

Likewise with enzymes and substrates. The shape of the substrate must match the active site of the enzyme. If the enzyme does not match the substrate, for example, if we use the amylase enzyme as a protein substrate, the two will not match. If the substrates don’t match, they can’t complement each other because there won’t be a reaction between them. But if the substrate is right, for example starch meets amylase, the enzyme will work.

In order for the amylase enzyme to break down starch into maltose, the enzyme requires a chloride ion (Cl) cofactor. This ion is like the power button in the enzyme. If the ions are attached, then the amylase enzyme will immediately turn on, work immediately, or the cool language is activated. If it is activated, the amylase enzyme can help break down starch into maltose.

Well, an enzyme must have a substrate pair. But the substrate can come in various forms. One starch is different from the other, in the form of amylopectin and in the form of amylose. If the shape of the incoming substrate does not match the enzyme, the active site of the enzyme can change to match the substrate, aka flexible.

But still, yes, even if the active site of an enzyme can change, the enzyme and its substrate must match, in order for it to work. Like amylase and starch earlier. Whatever the form of starch, if you meet the amylase enzyme, yes, they will match each other.

Enzyme Properties

Enzymes must have pairs with suitable substrates because enzymes have specific properties. This means that even though there are many substrates, the enzyme will choose a suitable substrate for it, aka already paired. In addition to specific properties, enzymes also have several other properties. The second property is that enzymes can work back and forth. In addition to turning the substrate into a product, enzymes can also turn the product into a substrate again, according to the body’s needs. Then as long as the enzyme is not damaged, the enzyme can be used over and over again. So actually the body only needs enzymes in small amounts. Well, whether or not enzymes work smoothly depends on several factors, such as temperature, pH, inhibitors, and activators.

you can also see how enzyme work on this video :

Well, now you understand what enzymes are and how enzymes work, right,

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Engineering Student of Airlangga University in Indonesia. Love to share knowledge