Enzyme Simulation Activities using Pop-Beads

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4 pages
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751 words
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Enzyme Simulation Activities using Pop-Beads
Background:
All living organisms are biological systems. Any living organism depends on thousands
of chemical reactions occurring at precisely the right time to maintain homeostasis. Most
molecules found in (and used in) biological systems are stable under normal conditions within
the cell. Because these molecules are stable, most chemical reactions left to occur by themselves
would happen very slowly or not at all without assistance. (Think of sucrose breaking down into
glucose and fructose monomers all by itself.) Biological catalysts speed up chemical reactions by
lowering activation energy. These catalysts are called enzymes.
Enzymes are a special class of proteins that speed up almost all the reactions and
processes that take place in cells. Like other proteins, enzymes are sensitive to temperature and
pH. There is an optimal range of temperature and pH under which each enzyme will best
function. Reactions will occur at their maximum level under these optimal ranges. At
temperatures too low or too high (outside the optimal range), enzymes may begin to denature
(change shape and break down). This breaks down the three dimensional structure of a protein,
thereby altering its ability to catalyze its reaction.
There are two models about enzyme substrate interaction used today. The new model

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