Enzyme is any group of complex proteins or conjugated proteins that are produced by living cells and act as catalysts in specific biochemical reactions. Enzymes are natural proteins produced in minute quantities by all living organisms (bacteria, plants, and animals) and functioning as highly selective biochemical catalysts by converting one molecule into another.
Although enzymes are large protein molecules with hundreds of amino acids, only a small part of the enzyme participates in the catalysis of a biochemical reaction. This is called the active site. The three-dimensional structure of the enzyme determines the appearance of the active site.
The active site precisely accommodates the shape of a biological substrate. The enzyme and substrate fit together like a key in a lock, and only substrates with the right shape will be transformed by an enzyme. This is what makes enzymes specific in their action. In addition to a substrate, the action of enzymes is dependent on time, enzyme concentration, temperature, pH levels and the presence of stabilizers or inhibitors.
Detergent enzymes must be cost-effective and safe to use. Early attempts to use proteases foundered because of producers and users developing hypersensitivity. This was combatted by developing dust-free granulates (about 0.5 mm in diameter) in which the enzyme is incorporated into an inner core, containing inorganic salts (e.g. NaCI) and sugars as preservative, bound with reinforcing, fibres of carboxymethyl cellulose or similar protective colloid. This core is coated with inert waxy materials made from paraffin oil or polyethylene glycol plus various hydrophilic binders, which later disperse in the wash. This combination of materials both prevents dust formation and protects the enzymes against damage by other detergent components during storage.
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