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PH Effect on Enzymes

December 24th 2009 12:22
For every enzyme, there is an optimum pH value at which the specific enzyme functions most actively. Any change in this pH significantly affects the enzyme activity and/or the rate of reaction. To know more about the relation between pH and enzymes and/or pH effect on enzymes, read on..



Enzymes are proteinaceous catalysts, which speed up the rate of a biochemical reaction. They reduce the activation energy that is essential for starting any type of chemical reaction. With a low energy requirement for activation, the reaction takes place faster. The overall performance of an enzyme depends on various factors, such as temperature, pH, cofactors, activators and inhibitors. You might have a fair idea regarding pH effect on enzymes. But, why and how does PH and temperature affect enzymes? This article highlights on the enzyme activity with reference to change in the pH level.

Why PH Affect Enzyme Activity?

The rate of a chemical reaction and/or the enzyme activity is greatly influenced by the structure of the enzyme. Or in other words, a change in the structure of the enzyme affects the rate of reaction. When pH of a particular medium changes, it leads to alteration in the shape of the enzyme. No only on enzymes, the pH level may also affect the charge properties and shape of the substrate. Within a narrow pH range, changes in the structural shapes of the enzymes and substrates may be reversible. But for a significant change in pH levels, the enzyme and the substrate may undergo denaturation. In such cases, they cannot identify each other. Consequently, there will be no reaction as such. This the reason why, pH affect enzyme activity.

How does PH Affect Enzymes?

Speaking about the connection between pH and enzymes and/or pH effect on enzymes, each and every enzyme is characterized by an optimum pH. At this specific pH level, a particular enzyme catalyzes the reaction at the fastest rate than in any other pH level. For example, the enzyme pepsin (a protease enzyme) that catalyzes proteins is most active at an acidic pH, whereas the enzyme trypsin (another protease enzyme) performs best at a slightly alkaline pH. Thus, the optimum pH of an enzyme is different from that of another enzyme. Read more on enzymes of the body.

When we study pH, it is clearly defined as the measurement for the acidic or alkaline nature of a solution. To be more precise, pH indicates the concentration of dissolved hydrogen ions (H ) in the particular solution. An increase or decrease in the pH changes the ion concentration in the solution. These ions alter the structure of the enzymes and at times, the substrate either due to formation of additional bonds or breakage of already existing bonds. Ultimately, the chemical makeup of the enzyme and substrate are changed. Also, the active site of the enzyme is changed, after which the substrate can no longer identify the enzyme.

For more information on enzymes, you can refer to:
Enzyme Substrate Complex
Function of Rennin Enzymes
Consider a case, when the reaction is adjusted at a pH level different from the optimum value. Over here, the rate of reaction or the activity of enzymes will not be the same as the previous one. At times, you will notice that there is no reaction at all. This occurs, when there is changes in the structure of the active site and the substrate. Hence, for the chemical reaction to take place, you need to adjust the pH of the solution in such a way that it is suitable for both the enzyme and the substrate. This way, pH effect on enzymes activity can be studied practically.

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