- 3.1: The Laws of Thermodynamics
- Two fundamental concepts govern energy as it relates to living organisms: the First Law of Thermodynamics states that total energy in a closed system is neither lost nor gained — it is only transformed. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that entropy constantly increases in a closed system.
- 3.2: Enzymes
- Biological catalysts are called enzymes, and the overwhelming majority of enzymes are proteins. The exceptions are a class of RNA molecules known as ribozymes, of which most act upon themselves (i.e. part of the RNA strand is a substrate for the ribozyme part of the strand). In this book (and most textbooks in this field), unless otherwise specified, the term enzyme refers to one made of protein. Enzymes also confer extraordinary specificity to a chemical reaction.
- 3.3: Enzyme Kinetics
- Unlike uncatalyzed (but readily occurring) reactions, in which the rate of the reaction is dependent only on the concentration of the reactants, the rate of enzyme-catalyzed reactions is limited by the number of enzyme molecules available. This maximal rate of turnover from substrate to product is a function of the speed of the enzyme and the number of enzyme molecules.
- 3.4: Regulation of Enzyme Activity
- Enzymes can be slowed down or even prevented from catalyzing reactions in many ways including preventing the substrate from entering the active site or preventing the enzyme from altering conformation to catalyze the reaction. The inhibitors that do this can do so either reversibly or irreversibly. The irreversible inhibitors are also called inactivators, and reversible inhibitors are generally grouped into two basic types: competitive and non-competitive.
Thumbnail: diagram showing the induced fit model in enzymes (Image used with permission (Public Domain; LadyofHats).