Enzyme Kinetics - Mechanisms of Catalysis

Mechanisms of Catalysis

The favoured model for the enzyme–substrate interaction is the induced fit model. This model proposes that the initial interaction between enzyme and substrate is relatively weak, but that these weak interactions rapidly induce conformational changes in the enzyme that strengthen binding. These conformational changes also bring catalytic residues in the active site close to the chemical bonds in the substrate that will be altered in the reaction. Conformational changes can be measured using circular dichroism or dual polarisation interferometry. After binding takes place, one or more mechanisms of catalysis lower the energy of the reaction's transition state by providing an alternative chemical pathway for the reaction. Mechanisms of catalysis include catalysis by bond strain; by proximity and orientation; by active-site proton donors or acceptors; covalent catalysis and quantum tunnelling.

Enzyme kinetics cannot prove which modes of catalysis are used by an enzyme. However, some kinetic data can suggest possibilities to be examined by other techniques. For example, a ping–pong mechanism with burst-phase pre-steady-state kinetics would suggest covalent catalysis might be important in this enzyme's mechanism. Alternatively, the observation of a strong pH effect on Vmax but not Km might indicate that a residue in the active site needs to be in a particular ionisation state for catalysis to occur.

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