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Drivers of enzyme function

Enzyme activity is dependent on a number of factors:

  • Concentration of enzyme and substrate
  • The higher the concentration of the enzyme or substrate, the faster the reaction.

  • Temperature
  • Enzymes function best within a narrow optimum temperature range. This range varies between enzymes.

    The optimum temperature of human enzymes is 37.5$$^{\circ}$$C.

    When enzymes are subjected to temperatures much higher than their optimum, they denature. The shape of the active site changes irreversibly, preventing substrates from binding.

  • pH (Acidity)
  • Different enzymes vary much more in their optimum pH range than in their optimum temperature. pH values outside the optimal range can also cause enzymes to denature.

    The optimum pH of pancreatic amylase is around 7, while enzymes in the stomach operate at a pH between 1.5 and 3.5.

  • Presence of inhibitors can also limit the function of enzymes.
  • DFP is an insecticide used in farming. It inhibits an important protease enzyme in animals.