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Home » Biology Homework Help » Biotechnology » Enzyme Technology
Enzyme Technology
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze the chemical reactions, both biosynthetic and degradative, occurring in living cells. Some RNA molecules have catalytic action; these are called ribozymes. The use of purified enzymes for generating a useful product or service constitutes enzyme technology. Enzymes increase, by a factor of 103 – 1016, the rates of such reactions that would naturally occur at a very slow rate, but they cannot induce a reaction that would not happen normally. For example, sugar molecules do not polymerise naturally, and no enzyme can polymerise them without utilizing energy usually provided by ATP. Enzyme activities are exploited in almost all biotechnological activities; the enzymes may themselves be present in living cells or in an isolated and purified state. Purified enzymes are employed in industrial processes, medicine, research and recombinant DNA technology, the total business in enzymes being over a billion dollars annually. The bulk, nearly one-third, of the enzymes are used for cheese production and in detergents.

The term ‘enzyme’ was introduced by Kunne in 1878, although the first observation of enzyme activity in a test tube was reported by Payen and Persoz in 1833. During 1890s Fisher suggested the ‘lock and key’ model of enzyme action, while a mathematical model of enzyme action was proposed by Michaelis and Menten in 1913. In 1926, Summer crystallized for the first time an enzyme (urease). The transition state theory of enzyme action was put forth by Pauling in 1948, and in 1951 Pauling and Corey discovered the and structures of enzymes. Sanger, in 1953, determined the amino acid sequence of a protein (insulin). In 1986, Cech discovered catalytic RNA, while Lerner and Schutlz developed catalytic antibodies.

Enzymes may or may not have a non-protein molecule attached to them. (1) Some enzymes contain covalently bound carbohydrates groups, which do not affect the catalytic activity but may influence enzyme stability or solubility. (2) many enzymes have metal ions, called cofactors, while some others possess low weight organic molecules termed as coenzymes. Cofactors and coenzymes may be covalently or non-covalently attached to the protein molecule, called apoenzyme. Both coenzymes and cofactors generally contribute to enzyme activity as well as stability. In continuous processes, conenzymes and cofactors tend to separate from the apoenzyme; this factor should be kept in mind and suitable provisions must be made for the same.

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