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Floating Ball Analogies for Enzyme Catalysis

   Copyright 2004 by Alberts, Bray, Johnson, Lewis, Raff, Roberts, Walter.
Garland Publishing: Taylor Francis Group.

Floating Ball Analogies for Enzyme Catalysis


Enzymes catalyze reactions by lowering the activation energy barrier. (A) barrier dam is lowered to represent enzyme catalysis. The green ball represents a potential enzyme substrate (compound X) that is bouncing up and down in energy level due to constant encounters with waves (an analogy for the thermal bombardment of the substrate with the surrounding water molecules). When the barrier (activation energy) is lowered significantly, it allows the energetically favorable movement of the ball (the substrate) downhill. (B) The four walls of the box represent the activation energy barriers for four different chemical reactions that are all energetically favorable, in the sense that the products are at lower energy levels than the substrates. In the left-hand box, none of these reactions occurs because even the largest waves are not large enough to surmount any of the energy barriers. In the right-hand box, enzyme catalysis lowers the activation energy for reaction number 1 only; now the jostling of the waves allows passage of the molecule over this energy barrier only, inducing reaction 1. (C) A branching river with a set of barrier dams (yellow boxes) serves to illustrate how a series of enzyme-catalyzed reactions determines the exact reaction pathway followed by each molecule inside the cell.  Fair Use and Copyright info

 
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