1 minute read

Metabolic Disease

Enzymes Control Metabolic Reactions

Enzymes are proteins that control the rate of chemical reactions in the cell. In general, each enzyme controls the rate of only one or a few reactions. Enzymes function by binding to the molecules to be reacted (called substrates or precursors) and altering their chemical bonds, producing products. The binding occurs on the surface of the enzyme, usually in a pocket or groove, called the active site. The enzyme releases the products after reaction. The active site has a specific three-dimensional structure that is required for binding substrates. In addition, it may have other sites that bind regulatory molecules or cofactors. Some cofactors are vitamins, which perform some accessory function critical for enzyme action.

Enzymes are often linked in multistep pathways, such that the product of one reaction becomes the substrate for another. In this way, a simple molecule can be changed step by step into a complex one, or vice versa. In addition, the multiple steps provide additional levels of regulation, and intermediates can be shunted into other pathways to make other products. For instance, some intermediates in the breakdown of sugar can be shunted to make amino acids. When all the enzymes in a pathway are functioning properly, intermediates rarely build up to high concentrations.

William Lucas, shown in 1998, when he was twelve, must wear a protective suit while riding his bicycle because he suffers from a metabolic disease called Erythropoietic Protoporphyria (EPP). The disorder is characterized by extreme sunlight sensitivity that can cause exposed skin to swell and blister.

Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaGenetics in Medicine - Part 3Metabolic Disease - Enzymes Control Metabolic Reactions, Enzyme Defects Cause Metabolic Disorders, Approaches To Treatment, Major Classes Of Metabolic Disorders - Disorders of Amino Acid Metabolism, Disorders of Organic Acid Metabolism, Disorders of Fatty