Optimum Temperature for Enzyme Activity: Definition & Overview

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  • 0:00 Enzymes & Catalase
  • 1:41 Enzymes & Denaturing
  • 3:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dominic Corsini
This lesson addresses how temperature influences enzyme function, and provides a concrete example from a lab setting. The key terminology will include the words enzyme, catalase, denaturing, and reaction rate.

Enzymes & Catalase

Meet Mr. Corsini. He's a science teacher and one of the highlights of his year is teaching an accelerated biology course at a local high school. His students learn quickly, and together they cover a host of topics including cells, genetics, and evolution. Early in the year we spend a considerable amount of time working in labs. Although the labs vary in nature, one of Mr. Corsini's favorites focuses on enzymes.

Enzymes are specialized proteins that speed up the rate of chemical reactions. When working with enzymes in the lab Mr. Corsini's class uses a type of enzyme called catalase. Catalase is an enzyme commonly found in nearly all living organisms. One of the cooler things catalase does is break down hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen.

This reaction is clearly visible to Mr. Corsini and his students when they mix the enzyme and catalase together inside a test tube. The hydrogen peroxide bubbles when it comes in contact with catalase. The bubbles are oxygen being released, and the clear liquid left behind is water. As can be seen in this image, the red color you see is liver, which contained the catalase enzyme.

Catalase Reacting in Lab
Catalase Reacting in Lab

The purpose of mixing the enzyme and catalase together inside a test tube wasn't just to see the reaction make bubbles, although that part is pretty cool. The rather to test how temperature influences enzyme function. To test this, Mr. Corsini generally splits his students into different groups. Each group then monitors the reaction rate at a different temperature. Reaction rate refers to how quickly a reaction occurs.

Enzymes & Denaturing

When students test the catalase reaction under colder conditions, it proceeds much more slowly than it does at room temperature. This indicates that cooler temperatures reduce the rate of enzyme function. Conversely, students who warm the enzyme find the reaction occurs much more quickly than at room temperature. This indicates that raising temperatures increase the rate of enzyme function.

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