What are enzymes and how do they work

(ORDO NEWS) — Enzymes are biological molecules (usually proteins) that greatly speed up the rate of virtually all chemical reactions that take place inside cells. They are vital to life and serve a wide range of important functions in the body, such as aiding in digestion and metabolism.

Thanks to the fermentation process, we have both teas and pickles.

Some enzymes help break down large molecules into smaller pieces that are easier for the body to absorb. Other enzymes help bind two molecules together to make a new molecule. Enzymes are highly selective catalysts, which means that each enzyme only speeds up a specific reaction.

Scientists have created self-healing concrete using enzymes found in human blood.

The molecules that an enzyme works with are called substrates. The substrates bind to a region of the enzyme called the active site.

There are two theories explaining the enzyme-substrate interaction.

The active site of the enzyme is precisely shaped to hold certain substrates. In the induced fit model, the active site and substrate don’t fit perfectly – instead, they both change their shape to connect.

Be that as it may, the ongoing reactions are greatly accelerated – more than a million times – as soon as the substrates bind to the active site of the enzyme. As a result of chemical reactions, a new product or molecule is formed, which is then separated from the enzyme that catalyzes other reactions.

Here’s an example: when the salivary enzyme amylase binds to starch, it starts the process of hydrolysis (the breakdown of the compound due to reaction with water), resulting in the formation of maltose, or malt sugar.

What are enzymes and how do they work 2

How Enzymes Help Digest Alcohol

Alcohol is broken down in the liver in two steps. In the first step, the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase converts alcohol into a rather nasty chemical called acetaldehyde. The buildup of this toxic chemical is one of the reasons why you feel bad in the morning and have a hangover.

A second enzyme, aldehyde dehydrogenase, then converts the acetaldehyde to acetic acid (the harmless acidic component of vinegar).

Deficiency of aldehyde dehydrogenase is common , in particular among the Chinese, Koreans and Japanese. Some people inherit two copies of the defective gene for this enzyme, one from each parent. Their liver produces a faulty version of the enzyme.

Others inherit the defective gene from only one parent and produce both the normal and the defective enzyme. However, this partial deficiency results in only 1 percent of the total enzyme activity, not 50 percent as one would expect.

This is because the faulty version is less stable and multiple copies of the enzyme must work together as a unit.

If you have inherited a complete or partial aldehyde dehydrogenase deficiency, very soon after drinking alcohol you will experience high levels of acetaldehyde – and all the discomfort that comes with it. Imagine: nausea, sweating, headache, heart palpitations, dizziness, redness of the face – and it all goes on for a long, long, long time …

What does it mean?

The good news is that, due to aldehyde dehydrogenase deficiency, alcoholism and alcohol-related cancer are much less common in East Asian populations. This is because people feel so bad after drinking alcohol that they drink very little, if at all.

Now for the bad news. If you have aldehyde dehydrogenase deficiency but continue to drink, you are at a higher risk of alcohol-induced cancer: cancer of the esophagus (the tube between your mouth and stomach) for example.

The risk is highest for people with partial deficiency. This is because their low residual enzymatic activity allows them to develop some tolerance to the unpleasant effects of alcohol consumption, but they are still exposed to high levels of acetaldehyde.

And scientists have discovered an enzyme that decomposes plastic!

It may come as a surprise that anyone with aldehyde dehydrogenase deficiency will drink at least sometime in their lives. But the reasons we love alcohol are complex. Some of them have to do with metabolism, some have to do with brain chemistry, and some have to do with social circumstances.

Some people experience greater pleasure than others when drinking alcohol, and this can contribute to the development of addiction.

Studies of the drinking habits of Asian American students have shown that social factors such as the influence of drinking culture, peer pressure, and family attitudes towards alcohol can help overcome the unpleasant physical effects associated with aldehyde dehydrogenase deficiency.


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