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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2001 Sep;58(10):1451-60.

Superefficient enzymes.

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INFM and Department of Biology, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy.


Diffusion-controlled enzymes are characterized by second-order rate constants in the range 10(8)-10(10) M(-1)s(-1). These values are at the upper end of the observed rates of many enzyme-substrate reactions and have been predicted by theoretical studies on bimolecular reaction in solution. Such enzymes are considered to be perfect, since their rate-limiting step is not due to any chemical event but to the diffusional association rate between the enzyme and the substrate. Often the enzyme-substrate encounter is facilitated either through the presence of a strong attractive electric field, produced by charges on the enzyme surface, or through the reduction in the dimension of the search process. Here we provide a brief review of some of the enzymes characterized by a very fast second-order constant, focusing attention on triose phosphate isomerase and Cu,Zn superoxide dismutase taken as typical examples of such highly tuned enzymes.

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