An enzyme is a type of protein that catalyzes (speeds up) chemical reactions in living organisms. Enzymes are involved in many essential biological processes, such as metabolism, digestion, and DNA replication.
Enzymes work by binding to a specific substrate, or reactant, and converting it into a different molecule, called the product. Enzymes do this by lowering the activation energy needed for a reaction to occur, making it easier and faster for the reaction to take place. The enzyme itself is not changed by the reaction and can be used repeatedly.
Enzymes are highly specific in their actions, meaning that each enzyme catalyzes only one particular reaction or a small group of similar reactions. Enzymes are also affected by various factors such as pH, temperature, and concentration of reactants and products.
Enzymes play crucial roles in many biological processes, and their malfunction can lead to various diseases. For example, deficiencies in certain enzymes can lead to genetic disorders such as phenylketonuria and lactose intolerance. Understanding the structure and function of enzymes is therefore important for developing treatments for diseases and improving our understanding of biological systems.