An enzyme is a biological catalyst (Purchon 2012). Its most basic function is to speed up the rate of reaction (Enzymes (n.d.). Without the existence of enzymes in living organisms, the process of digestion would take weeks. The function of our muscles, nerves and bones will also decrease in efficiency (Purchon 2012). Therefore, the activities in living systems are dependent on and mostly controlled by enzymes. Similar to other catalysts, enzymes can be reused multiple times, however, their natural properties are easily taken away or altered by heat (Purchon 2012). In order for enzymes to maintain their qualities, they need to be in body temperature and a specific pH (Purchon 2012). The reason why enzymes are so sensitive to heat and pH is because they are protein molecules (Purchon 2012). An enzyme will only function within its specific chemical reaction. Enzymes work by binding themselves to one reactant also known as a substrate (Enzymes (n.d.), by doing this they are lowering the activation energy of the reaction that they are catalyzing, hence the speed of reaction is increased. There are many different types of enzymes within living organisms catalyzing specific chemical reactions.
In this particular experiment, the enzyme pepsin was used. First recognized in 1836, pepsin is a digestive enzyme found in the gastric juices of the stomach of living organisms, mainly mammals (Pepsin 2012). It breaks down protein in foods such as meat, eggs, seeds and dairy products into peptides. To break proteins into amino acid molecules, the bonds joining the amino acids called the peptide bonds must break (Hendrickson 2010). The reaction that breaks these bonds is called hydrolysis, as a water molecule is required in order for t...
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