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Effect of Enzyme Concentration on Enzyme Activity

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  • 0:00 What Is an Enzyme?
  • 0:55 How Do Enzymes Work?
  • 2:15 The Effects of Enzyme…
  • 4:07 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sarah Phenix
In this lesson, we'll explore what an enzyme is, what an enzymatic reaction is and what happens to the rate of a reaction if you add more enzymes to a solution.

What Is an Enzyme?

You've probably heard of lipids (fats), proteins, and carbohydrates. These are the building blocks of a balanced diet, and they're also the building blocks of our bodies. They all belong to a category known as macromolecules, a term used to describe large ('macro') molecules. Enzymes belong to the proteins category because enzymes are long chains of amino acids bound together by peptide bonds.

So what makes these particular proteins unique? Well, enzymes have a very important job: They catalyze reactions, which means they initiate chemical interactions between molecules, and their participation in the reaction actually results in speeding up the entire process. They're like an efficient project manager who not only gets the project completed fast, but also under budget.

How Do Enzymes Work?

Enzymes have a special marker on them called an active site that, like a puzzle piece, fits with only one other type of molecule, generally referred to as a substrate. The substrate is a molecule that will undergo a reaction that results in it splitting into two separate molecules, called products. The substrate specific to a particular enzyme will bind at the active site, forming what is known as an enzyme/substrate complex. In other words, a complex formed by the union of the enzyme and substrate.

This union creates an energy change that results in splitting the substrate into smaller molecules (those products we just learned about), and the complex then becomes known as an enzyme/products complex. This is a very short-lived phase; once the substrate becomes a product, the enzyme's job is officially complete, so it releases the products and goes on to find a new substrate to split.

An important characteristic of enzymes is that they not only reduce the amount of time and energy required for a reaction to take place, but they're also not consumed or changed in any way by the reaction itself. This means that once their active site is freed, they can go on to instigate more reactions. So that brings us to the question, is more better when it comes to enzymatic reactions?

The Effects of Enzyme Quantities

So, if a little works, is more better? Well, this is a good question and, depending on whether 'more' refers to the enzyme or the substrate, the answer may be yes. Adding more substrate to a solution whose environment is suitable for enzymatic activity will not increase the enzymatic activity. However, adding more enzyme will. In other words, more enzyme means more available active sites to catalyze reactions.

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