Skip to main content
Biology LibreTexts

Methods of Catalysis

Catalysts, including enzymes, can employ at least five different ways to stabilize transition states. Reactions in solution that are not catalyzed are slow since charge development and separation occurs in the transition state. When bonds are made or broken, charged intermediates are often formed which are higher in energy than the reactants. Since the intermediate is higher in energy than the reactants, the transition state would be even higher in energy, and hence more closely resemble the charged intermediate. Anything that can stabilize the charges on the intermediate and hence the developing charges in the transition states will lower the energy of the transition state and catalyze the reaction.; In this section will will investigate the mechanism underlying the catalysis by small molecules of chemical reactions. Presumably, biological macromolecular catalyst (like protein enzymes) will use similar mechanisms in their catalytic effects.


  1. Movassaghi, M. & Jacobsen, E. The Simplest "Enzyme". Science, 298, pg 1904 (2002)
  2. Regan, Craig, and Brauman. Nature 295, pg 2245 (2002)