What Happens When an Enzyme Is Placed in the Wrong pH?

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When an enzyme is placed in the wrong pH, a very specific reaction is going to happen next. Find out what happens when an enzyme is placed in the wrong pH with help from an experienced chemistry professional in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Chemistry & Biology Concepts
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Hi, I'm Robin Higgins and this is, "What happens if you place an enzyme in the wrong pH?" Okay so let's review what an enzyme does. Well, let's say we have a reaction and we want it to go from reactives to products over here Every action is going to have an activation energy and this is the amount of energy required to push those reactives into becoming products and so what an enzyme does is it acts as a catalyst which means that it lowers that activation energy. So you can see if we have our normal activation energy and this is when the enzyme brings it to you, this basically lowered the energy so that the reaction can happen much more quickly and more often. Okay, so now what happens if you place an enzyme in the wrong pH? Well every enzyme actually has an ideal and so what this means is that there's a very specific ideal pH. In this case let's call it six but they actually vary widely. Some enzymes like to be in acidic conditions, some like to be in basic, some like being neutral but they each have an ideal pH and this really depends on how the enzyme folds into itself and they hydrogen bonds it forms and its overall tertiary structure. And so if we have an enzyme that's placed in the wrong pH, certain things are going to start to get messed up that enzyme won't be as efficient. So let's say that inside the enzyme you have some kind of fold where you have an alcohol group and over here you have a hydrogen and you are forming a hydrogen bond here. So this hydrogen bond is actually helping to shape the enzyme and so let's say that you have this enzyme and it's happy and it's working and you move into a much higher pH. Now all of a sudden there's going to be a bunch of free hydrogens over here because it's much more acidic and let's say that this oxygen decides okay I'm actually not going to hydrogen bond with this guy any more, I'm going to hydrogen bond with this guy. Well that means that now this enzyme has lost part of its structure and it won't be as effective and this isn't just happening here it's happening all over the enzyme if you take it out of the correct pH and if you do it enough it will actually completely denature, it will lose all of its structure and it won't be able to work effectively at all. So if you have an enzyme and you want it to function, it's really important that it's under correct pH conditions and enzymes also have ideal temperatures as well and other types of conditions that they need. They are very specific and they work really well under one type of condition usually. I'm Robin Higgins and this is, "What happens if you place an enzyme in the wrong pH?"

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