Enzyme Kinetics - General Principles

General Principles

The reaction catalysed by an enzyme uses exactly the same reactants and produces exactly the same products as the uncatalysed reaction. Like other catalysts, enzymes do not alter the position of equilibrium between substrates and products. However, unlike uncatalysed chemical reactions, enzyme-catalysed reactions display saturation kinetics. For a given enzyme concentration and for relatively low substrate concentrations, the reaction rate increases linearly with substrate concentration; the enzyme molecules are largely free to catalyse the reaction, and increasing substrate concentration means an increasing rate at which the enzyme and substrate molecules encounter one another. However, at relatively high substrate concentrations, the reaction rate asymptotically approaches the theoretical maximum; the enzyme active sites are almost all occupied and the reaction rate is determined by the intrinsic turnover rate of the enzyme. The substrate concentration midway between these two limiting cases is denoted by KM.

The two most important kinetic properties of an enzyme are how quickly the enzyme becomes saturated with a particular substrate, and the maximum rate it can achieve. Knowing these properties suggests what an enzyme might do in the cell and can show how the enzyme will respond to changes in these conditions.

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