An enzyme inhibitor is a molecule that prevents an enzyme from operating as intended. As a result of this, the rate of enzyme catalyzed reaction is slowed. Besides, there are several impacts of enzyme inhibitors, which could either be temporary or permanent. In fact, enzyme inhibitors can even halt the process of catalysis. There are various kinds of substances where enzyme inhibitors can be found including, natural toxins, drugs, chemicals used in warfare among others.
An enzyme inhibitor can operate in two main forms; Competitive and Non-competitive. However, some may also categorize inhibitors into specific or non-specific.
Competitive enzyme inhibitor
Just like the name suggests, this form of enzyme inhibition is the most obvious and straight forward. It bears the same shape as that of a normal substrate for the enzyme. This gives it an advantage of competing fairly with the active site without much trouble.
Once the inhibitor attaches itself to the active site, it does not stage any reaction but simply blocks the way so catalysis of enzymes cannot take place effectively as required. The complex undergoes no further reaction. However, its formation can be reversed, therefore, undergoes a breakdown to form the enzyme and inhibition molecule.
This implies if the concentration of the substrate is increased, it can out-do the inhibitor, hence, the normal reaction can occur at the recommended rate.
An example of competitive inhibition can be the case of malonate ions inhibiting enzyme succinate dehydrogenase. The enzyme increases the conversion of succinate ions to fumarate ions.
If the concentration of the succinate ions is higher than the malonate ions, there is a likelihood they will get to site several times than the latter. Based on this, it can be said that increasing the concentration of the substrate overcomes the impact of inhibition.
Non-Competitive Enzyme Inhibitor
This form of inhibition does not attach itself to the active site, instead, another part of the enzyme. Considering that it attaches itself somewhere else, it interferes with the structural formation of the enzyme and eventually, the way the enzyme functions. Since there is no competition between the inhibition molecule and the substrate, increasing the concentration of the latter would not have any effect.
Non-competitive enzyme inhibitors block the substrate from undergoing a catalytic reaction to form a product. The sites that this form of inhibition binds to are called Allosteric Site. As a result of this behavior, they interfere with the enzyme’s 3D tertiary structure, so it can never have the ability to catalyze a reaction.
Specific and Non-specific Inhibition
A non-specific inhibitor impacts all enzymes in a similar way. Some of the methods of this form of inhibition include any chemical or physical changes. As a result of these changes, the part of the enzyme that contains protein is distorted, making them irreversible.
Specific inhibitors on the other hand, affect just a single enzyme. Many poisonous substances work through the specific inhibition of enzymes. That is the reason poison always disturbs the body of an organism when consumed.
Applications of Enzyme Inhibitors
Enzyme inhibitors can also be used as medicines. In fact, there are various drugs that work by inhibition of bacteria, viruses, or cancer cells, thereby offering treatments to various kinds of health conditions.
For example, the drug Penicillin works by inhibiting a bacterial enzyme responsible for the formation of cross-links in the cells walls of bacteria. As a result of this, the reproduction of disease-causing cells is brought to a halt.
An enzyme inhibitor can also play a significant role in controlling metabolic reactions. Enzyme stir up the rate of metabolic reactions by almost 10 million. This makes them essential for human survival, however, the activity of the enzyme will be under strict regulation, since uncontrolled reactions can even result into death.
An example is the case of multiple sclerocis, the immune system begins destroying nerves by empowering enzymes to attack nerve cells, thereby impacting malfunction or inhibiting their production.
However, it should be noted that metabolic processes are comprised of various kinds of reactions, each catalyzed by a different enzyme. Such reactions are referred to as metabolic pathways. An example is the process of photosynthesis, which entails a metabolic pathway.
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