Study Brings Clarity to the Age-Old Debate of Exactly How Enzymes Work

Enzymatic reactions are necessary for biology, where they regulate various biological functions. Enzymes can accelerate processes by forming noncovalent or covalent interactions.  Research has aimed to understand how enzymes can change substantial reactions via noncovalent enzyme-substrate interactions.

Enzymatic Reaction

Enzymatic Reaction. Credit: OpenStax College

The cause of enzyme catalytic power is vital in science.  Various methods have aimed to explain the origin of enzymes’ immense catalytic power. The most widely recognized theory is that enzymes influence reactions by stabilizing their transition states (TSs), and TS stabilization has developed as a method for engineering enzymes.

Read Also: TET Enzymes Deficiency Increases the Risks of Developing Cancer According to Northwestern University Study

The destabilizing ground states (GSs) is another commonly established theory.

Scientists studied the similarities and differences between the two mechanisms now under controversy by analyzing catalytic reactions at a deep molecular level in their work published in Chemical Science. The study investigated the breakdown of various enzymatic reactions.

The result identified similarities between catalysis by TS stabilization and GS destabilization. Enzymes lower the free energy state regardless of whether they catalyze TS stabilization or GS destabilizing actions.

The shared mechanism of action of two widely held enzyme catalytic ideas has the potential to alter scientific perceptions

The catalytic power of enzymes found in living organisms is vital. Life-sustaining chemical reactions are millions of times faster than they would be without enzymes. Enzymes speed up events by lowering the activation energy necessary to start them, but how enzymes do this has been a source of contention for more than 70 years. Two separate reaction pathways describe the breakdown power of enzymes.

According to one notion, enzymes reduce the activation state of a reaction by stabilizing the transition state, while the other argues for decreasing the destabilization ground state.

According to the current study, these mechanisms are not mutually exclusive. The new research focused on enzyme action in chemical reactions because both widely held beliefs focus on such enzymatic processes. A hydro environment is involved because it changes the charge of residues within the catalytic site, promoting the creation of an energetically favorable state that drives the enzymatic reaction.

Furthermore, noncovalent interactions do not alter the reaction routes and can dramatically speed processes.

As a result, we concentrate our research on the interactions of substrate atoms that undergo charge changes to assess their function in energy reduction.

The study looked at a wide range of enzymatic activities and discovered that increasing the charge densities of atoms experiencing a decrease in charge density between the GSs and TSs reduces the free energy of the reactions.

Read Also: Inhibiting Microbial Enzyme a Possible Path for Curing Ulcerative Colitis

Clinical significance

The findings have crucial implications for researchers’ understanding of enzyme catalytic power and practical drug design applications. It is also significant in developing artificial enzymes and investigating various enzyme catalysis.


The research leads scientists to a novel conclusion: TS and GS are not so different. The theories use a similar atomic mechanism to accelerate the enzymatic reaction.


Key difference between transition state stabilization and ground state destabilization: increasing atomic charge densities before or during enzyme–substrate binding†



Want to Stay Informed?

Join the Gilmore Health News Newsletter!

Want to live your best life?

Get the Gilmore Health Weekly newsletter for health tips, wellness updates and more.

By clicking "Subscribe," I agree to the Gilmore Health and . I also agree to receive emails from Gilmore Health and I understand that I may opt out of Gilmore Health subscriptions at any time.