- Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions in the body.
- Enzymes are typically stable at temperatures below 37 degrees Celsius (98 degrees Fahrenheit), but they can be disrupted above that temperature.
- The structure of enzymes can be disrupted by high temperatures, and this can lead to decreased enzyme activity.
- There is a trade-off between the stability of enzymes and their ability to catalyze chemical reactions.
- Enzymes can be large and therefore have lower stability than smaller enzymes.
- A drug may have an enzyme inhibitor, and this will reduce the activity of that enzyme.
What is an Enzyme, and What Does It Do?
They are typically found in high concentrations in warm organs, such as the liver, pancreas, and muscles. Enzymes can be denatured (destroyed) by being heated above 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius). This occurs because enzymes work best at a specific temperature and if the temperature is too high or too low, the enzyme will not function properly.
Effects of Temperature on Enzyme Structure and Function
Enzyme activity and structure are affected by temperature. At temperatures below the melting point of the enzyme, the protein chains remain linked together in a single unit. As the temperature rises above the melting point, individual protein chains break down into smaller pieces. This process is called denaturing and it affects enzyme function because it causes enzymes to lose their ability to catalyze chemical reactions. In extreme cases, denaturing can cause enzymes to become inactive or even dissolve in water.
What Happens to Enzymes When They Are Outside the Body
One common question people ask about enzymes is what happens to them when they’re outside of the body. Generally speaking, enzyme activity will decline as temperature increases. Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions within cells, and the higher temperatures required for their activity can damage their structures. This decrease in enzymatic activity can lead to a number of undesirable outcomes, such as less effective protein synthesis or decreased metabolic efficiency. In extreme cases, this deterioration can even cause an enzyme to become inactive altogether.
When enzymes are exposed to a higher temperature than the typical human body temperature, their structures change. The atoms that make up the enzyme’s backbone become more diffuse and their overall structure becomes less regular. This decrease in stability can lead to decreased enzyme activity and even damage to the enzyme itself.