An enzyme inhibitor is best described as a molecule that binds to enzymes as such, decreasing their activity. Blocking enzyme activity is known to kill pathogens or correct metabolic imbalance. It is precisely because of this reason that most drugs are known as enzyme inhibitors. In addition to this, they are also used as pesticides and herbicides.
All molecules that bind to enzymes are not inhibitors because there are enzyme activators that bind to enzymes increasing their enzymatic activity while enzyme substrates bind and get converted to products in the catalytic normal cycle of the enzyme.
Inhibitor binding can prevent a substrate from entering enzyme site and/or hinder the enzyme from catalyzing its reaction. There are different types of inhibitors including reversible, irreversible, nonspecific-noncompetitive and competitive. Good enzyme inhibitors examples include drugs and poisons.
There are non-specific inhibitors that affect all enzymes in the same manner. Non-specific techniques of inhibition include any chemical and physical changes which ultimately denatures protein portion of the enzyme and therefore, irreversible.
The reaction rate usually increases with temperatures but with enzyme reaction, there reaches a point when the reaction begins to decrease with increase in temperature. At high temperatures, the protein portion of the enzyme starts to denature as such, inhibiting the reaction.
Enzyme inhibitor is found in nature though it can also be produced and designed as part of biochemistry and pharmacology. Often, natural poisons are inhibitors that have evolved in order to defend animal and a plant against predators. The natural toxins include the most poisonous known compounds.
Artificial inhibitors are used as drugs but they can also be used as insecticides like malathion, disinfectants like triclosan or herbicides like glyphosat. Other types of artificial inhibitors are known to block acetylcholinesterase an enzyme that breaks acetylcholine down and which serves as a nerve agent in chemical warfare.
Enzyme inhibitors are most commonly used as drugs for treatment of disease. This is because many of the inhibitors target human enzyme and aim to correct pathological conditions. While this is the case, it is essential to note that not all enzymes are inhibitors.
There are some like anti-epileptic drugs known to alter enzyme activity by causing less or more production of the enzymes. These effects are known as inhibition and induction and they are gene expression alterations which are unrelated to enzyme inhibitors.
Enzyme inhibitor is also important for metabolic control as most of the metabolic pathways in the cell are inhibited by metabolites which control enzyme activity through substrate and allosteric regulation.
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