It is known that the human body maintains an extremely complex system of reactions. These reactions must be carried out at strictly defined speed limits in order to maintain life. This role, of speed regulation, assumes enzymes as appropriate. But what are the basic characteristics of an enzyme?
- They have the basic properties of a catalyst, i.e. accelerate the reaction by reduced activation energy.
- Enzymes are more effective than usual catalysts, accelerating the reaction 106 to 108 times.
- Most enzymes are protein mega-molecules with relative molecular masses ranging between 10,000 and one million.
- They have extremely selective action.
- Their catalytic effect is influenced by temperature, usually deactivated at temperatures above 50 oC.
- Their action depends on the pH value
- The most widespread theory interprets the mechanism of action of an enzyme as “key-lock”. The substrate, i.e. the catalyzed substance, is joined to the active site, with Van der Waals cross-border bonds. The substrate, that is, plays the role of the key and the enzyme of the lock. The substrate is activated as soon as it gets stuck in the enzyme and so the reaction accelerates. The reaction products then peel off the enzyme and the phenomenon continues with other substrate molecules.
This catalyzes many of man’s functions, such as digestion, breathing, the synthesis of new cells, etc. Thousands of enzymes are known today and each of them performs a specific action. Masszymes is a protease enzyme that breaks down protein and helps with digestion. It is one of the best enzyme supplements available in the market.
Enzymes and diseases
Some diseases are caused by the lack of high concentration of certain enzymes in our body. For example, we bring the case of phenylketonuria disease which is a disease caused by the lack of the enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase (an enzyme that catalyzes the breakdown of phenylalanine).
Thus, the amino acid phenylalanine cannot be oxidized and part of it accumulates in the brain, causing mental retardation. Another example is albinish, a disease due to the lack of the enzyme tyrosinase, which catalyzes the formation of hair and eye pigment.
Enzymes and treatment
Enzymes play a very important role in the treatment of certain diseases, such as the enzyme thrombin for wound healing. Also, the enzyme lysozyme, found in the tears of our eyes, catalyzes the breakdown of certain bacteria. Another example is the enzyme streptokinase, which catalyzes the breakdown of clots and can be used to treat heart disease.
Enzymes and poisonings
The active action of enzymes is destroyed by certain substances that are bound together with the active centers of enzymes and deactivate them. These substances are called blockers or inhibitors.
Many substances owe their poisonous effect to the fact that they act as agents of enzymatic action. If one takes into account that enzymes are found in our bodies in extremely small quantities, one understands why certain poisons cause death even in small quantities.
The terrible poisonous effect e.g. of hydrogen cyanide is attributed to the fact that it disables the action of certain enzymes, forming complexes with the heavy metals of enzymes.
Also, the poisonous action of certain toxic metal ions such as lead and mercury is believed to be due to the disabling they cause inactive enzyme centers.