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Can enzymes live outside of the body?


Well they’re not alive, but I believe like proteins different conditions (pH, heat, etc can change their form). Some conditions may break down enzymes into their component amino acids.

I’m not a biology person. I hope someone has a better answer than this. XD




As you noted, enzymes are proteins and are not alive in the first place. That being said, yeah, enzymes may not work properly in conditions unlike those inside the body, as they’re optimized to fold correctly at the conditions at which they work in the body. What happens to them outside the body is really largely dependent on the structure of the individual protein and what conditions you put it into.

It would take some pretty severe conditions to break proteins down into their component amino acids at any significant rate (that would require actually breaking the covalent peptide bonds), so that probably wouldn’t happen unless you specifically used other enzymes or something else to catalyze that reaction.

I think you’re looking for the term “physiological conditions”. :D

One of my friends works in a biochem lab, and she’s mentioned how they keep all of their enzymes in the fridge to prevent degradation. Enzymes (and all polypeptides, really) can unfold and deactivate, especially at higher temperatures. Ribozymes are especially easy to degrade, since RNA is inherently unstable to base.

You’d need proteases to degrade enzymes to the individual amino acids, and either base or RNases to break down ribozymes.

I’m going to assume Anon meant ‘is active’ rather than ‘alive’. In terms of what conditions enzymes can perform under - there are some enzymes used in washing powders for instance amalyases, lipases and some proteases, They break down starches, fats, and protein based stains respectively, but have to be selected based on which ones are able to perform under conditions found in a washing machine.

I think temperature would be the biggest factor in whether an enzyme could work - other than being denatured at higher temperatures ~45 deg C  and up depending on the enzyme, that said most enzymes lose activity at lower temperatures, hence in this case washing clothes around body temperature would be more likely to remove a stain.

3 days ago • 46 notes