What Function Does an Enzyme Serve in a Chemical Reaction?

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The function that an enzyme serves in a chemical reaction will require you to take a closer look at the molecule in question. Find out what function an enzyme serves in a chemical reaction with help from an experienced chemistry professional in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Chemistry & Biology Concepts
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Robin Higgins and this is what function does an enzyme serve in a chemical reaction. Okay so let's take a look. Let's say that we have some molecule that we don't know what it looks like completely because it's a pretty big molecule so we have an R group here but in general we want it to go from an alcohol to an aldehyde. Now every reaction is going to have an activation energy and what that is is basically if we're starting over here this is our alcohol, we want to end over here at our aldehyde, everything has to line up perfectly with this alcohol and react in a very specific way to become the aldehyde. So every reaction we have looks like this where eventually you'll see, we'll get down here, this is energy and eventually we'll get down here and it will be completely fine with our products but, we have to get over this huge hump which now is this tall. So an enzyme is the same as a catalyst and what that means is that we have our enzyme which is some kind of protein that folds and it accepts alcohols and turns them into aldehydes and it will be a different pathway. It will allow for this reaction to happen in a different way then it would have naturally and so the end result is that this enzyme will have a graph like this and so it still has an activation energy but look at all the height that you've saved. It's a lot less and because of this barrier being less, this reaction can happen thousands and millions of times faster than it would have unassisted and so this is the purpose of an enzyme. An enzyme is just nature's catalyst. It lowers activation energy. I'm Robin Higgins and this is what is the purpose of an enzyme in chemistry.


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