RadicalZ Q&A: Can enzymes be reused?
The proteins that can speed up reactions
At RadicalZ we think the world of enzymes holds many questions that require good answers. Don’t worry, we’ll do the work for you – from now on, in this new section of our blog we will be answering some of the most interesting questions related to our great passion, enzymes! Welcome to RadicalZ Q&A, take a seat.
This time around we’ll look into the reusability of these tiny powerhouses. Can enzymes be used more than once? And if so, how many times or endlessly? Enzymes, as we already know, are proteins that act as catalysts, which can make all the difference in manufacturing sustainable products.
Enzymes are extremely specific about which reactions they can help. That is because they adopt certain forms that fit with the substrates they transform. This binding process is what makes reactions faster than normal, and its exquisiteness is one of the reasons enzymes are hard to find or engineer.
Using an enzyme over and over again
So, back to answering the key question of this post. These organic molecules can be used as many times as necessary. But why is that? After enzymes bind a substrate, adopt its form and then release it, they recover their original shape, and are able to catch another substrate and repeat the process.
As one enzyme can catalyse a chemical reaction multiple times without being disrupted, just a few of these molecules is enough to produce large amounts of a product.
Protecting the properties of enzymes
While it is true that enzymes can be used time and again, they can lose their power if we are not extremely careful about the conditions in which we preserve them. If we fail to protect an enzyme, it will denature, losing its properties and therefore its ability to bind a substrate.
Let’s take a look at the optimal conditions for enzymes:
- Enzymes work best when the substrate concentration during the reaction is high enough. On the contrary, they can stop functioning if the product accumulates, meaning it has to be frequently removed.
- Enzymes are highly sensitive to temperature changes. Generally speaking, raising the temperature will speed up a reaction, lowering it will slow it down. Wrong temperatures can cause an enzyme to denature, so finding the optimal temperature is key for productive reactions.
- Every enzyme has an optimal pH range in which it performs best, usually depending on its site of action. If the pH is not suitable and the conditions are too alkaline or acidic, the enzyme might denature and lose its ability to bind to the substrate.
That’s all for our first Q&A. Stay tuned for the upcoming posts about our beloved enzymes and the multiple questions they make us think about!