What Is the Basic Unit of Enzymes?


Enzymes are mentioned in advertising all types of products. They are referred to as having the power to eat stains on clothing and aid in human digestion. Scientists use them in their labs for all sorts of experiments. One of the more popular uses for enzymes is in meat tenderizers, whose main job is to break down tough meat to make it easier to chew and digest.

What Are Enzymes?

  • Enzymes are formed in living cells and are categorized as complex proteins. There are many different types of enzymes and they perform in many different capacities. Your body produces enzymes to digest your food and metabolic enzymes to run and manage your body. You eat food containing food enzymes. Food enzymes trigger the digestive process in the body. Enzymes build the body by using the fats, proteins and carbohydrates present in the body. We cannot function without enzymes.

Why Are Enzymes in Products?

  • An enzyme has a particular characteristic that makes it very useful. They are catalysts of chemical reactions. Each type of enzyme works to catalyze specific reactions. From the chemical reactions found in the digestive process to the functioning of our organs and the replication of your DNA, this ability to trigger chemical reactions makes enzymes popular in all types of products and in laboratories across the world.

Why Measure an Enzyme?

  • There are two reasons to measure an enzyme. One is to know the amount of the enzyme and the other is to measure the activity of the enzyme. Laboratory methods require knowing both the weight and activity of any enzyme used. Enzyme activity measures the amount of active enzyme by the use of a measurement called an enzyme unit. Any enzyme activity = rate (time) x the reaction volume.

How Are Enzymes Measured?

  • In a laboratory, the physical amount of a substance, including enzymes, is measured by molecular count. Traditionally, a molar molecular count is measured against the number of atoms in 12 grams of carbon, meaning the amount of enzyme used is equal to as many molecules as there are in 12 grams of carbon.

What is an Enzyme Unit?

  • An enzyme unit, the basic unit of an enzyme, is shown as "U." One U equals the amount of enzyme needed to transform 1 micro mole of a substrate within 1 minute. In order to know the U, you must know the specific conditions (the pH, temperature and substrate concentration) the reaction takes place within. Typically, an enzyme unit is measured as happening in 1 minute. Internationally, the enzyme unit is replaced with a katal unit, which uses 1 second as its time constraint.

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