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Applications of Enzymes

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Introduction to Enzymes

Enzymes are proteins composed of hundreds and thousands of amino acids which act as a catalyst. Catalysts will accelerate any kind of biochemical reaction. Enzymes that act on the molecule is known as substrate and further those substrates are converted into products.

A German scientist Kuhne first coined the word enzyme in the year 1878. Everything related to the enzymes like their catalyst, types, functions, mechanism, and other activities related to the enzymes and their terminologies can be studied in biochemistry.

Involvement of Enzymes

Enzymes are mainly involved in various bio-reaction processes (like all the metabolic processes of the cell need enzyme catalysis) in the human body, therefore it is also referred to as the biological catalyst. Some of the important functions where the presence of the enzymes is required are, the production of energy in the cells, the process of digestion, the production of hormones, and so on.

Types of Enzymes

Enzymes are mainly divided into six types based on their function.

  1. Lyases

  2. Ligases

  3. Isomerases

  4. Hydrolases

  5. Transferases

  6. Oxidoreductases

Functions of Enzymes

Some of the important functions of the enzymes are:

  • It plays a crucial role in performing various body functions, including biological processes like absorption of nutrients, digestion, breathing, excretion, reproduction, liver functions and also kidney function, etc.

Application of Enzymes

There are nearly 1300 varieties of enzymes found in the human cell, that includes amylase, pepsin, trypsin, pancreatic lipase, ribonuclease, and deoxyribonuclease. All of the enzymes mentioned are involved in different chemical processes such as breaking large starch molecules, proteins, fats, and other nucleic acids.

In the Food Industry

In this type of industry, enzymes are used in food processing, which is a very old practice and has been used by our ancestors and these processes are very simple. They are used in food industries to process raw materials for the production of several common products like bakery items, dairy products, meat products, fruit products, beer, and wine.

They are broadly used in the production of alcoholic beverages and certain food products. It is not only used in the production of food but it is also used to improve the quality of foods like the quality of food, taste, flavour, colour, etc. Some of the application of the enzymes include:

  • To improve the quality of food α-Amylase and glucoamylase enzymes are added.

  • To improve the colour and nutritional quality of the food peroxidase enzyme is added.

  • To improve the flavour of food lipase, xylanase, and glucose oxidase enzymes are used.

Nowadays, the biotechnology enzymes, which are used in the food industry are directly extracted from plants and animal sources and they can also be obtained from microbial fermentation.

In Pharmaceutical Industries

With the development of new technologies, the unique characteristics of enzymes and different types of enzymes are used as drugs. They specially bind to their target and also they have incomparable potential and advantages compared to other ordinary small molecular drugs.

Some of the important application of the therapeutic enzymes are, they are widely used in the production of drugs to treat various dreadful diseases and also other infectious diseases, including allergies, food and cyanide poisoning, heart attack, inflammation, leukaemia, viral and bacterial infections, plague formations, skin ulcers, thrombosis and many more.

In Textile Processing and Fabric Finishing Industries

In textile and fabric finishing industries, enzymes play a very important role to remove impurities and providing a stonewashed effect. And it is used in ethanol production to break down the starch and cellulose into fermentable sugars.

Other Applications of Enzymes Include:

  • It is a natural tool of nature and it is very essential to all forms of life existing on planet earth. 

  • The application of enzymes in food industry helps to improve everyday consumers and commercial products as well.

  • They are one of the most powerful tools, which helps to clean the environment in several ways by producing environmentally friendly products.

  • It is also used in several technical applications in laundry to remove stains and to increase the life of the fabric, in recycling paper and paper products to remove ink, and in the production of dishwashing soaps and detergents. 

  • It is used to produce various food products, beverage processing, animal nutrition, textile industries, household goods, biofuels, and other fuels for automobiles, cleaning products, and also in energy generation plants.

Facts About Enzymes

  • Enzymes are a type of biological catalyst, which accelerates and changes the state of a chemical reaction.

  • Enzymes are involved in the various metabolic processes within the cells, which helps to increase the metabolic activities to sustain life.

  • The type of enzymes created during the process of metabolism determines the type of metabolic pathways that occurs within the cells.

  • Enzymes are used to produce environmentally friendly products, which are manufactured using less energy, water, and raw material and also generate less waste.

  • In plants, the process of photosynthesis would not have been possible without enzymes. And in animals, especially in herbivores, cellulose enzymes in the stomach help to break down the plant cellulose into smaller and easily absorbable nutrients to produce energy for their further metabolic process.

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FAQs on Applications of Enzymes

1. What Enzymes Do?

Enzymes act according to their place of occurrence like in the digestive system, it helps to break down the larger molecules into smaller molecules (glucose). In DNA replication, enzymes help in the process of unwinding the DNA coils and copying the information. In the liver, a range of enzymes helps to break down the toxins in the body.

2. How Do Enzymes Work?

Ans. The first model about the working of enzymes proposed in 1894 was the lock and key model. According to this model, an enzyme’s active site is a specific shape, and only the substrate will fit into it, like a lock and key. Recently the model has been updated and it is known as the induced fit model. According to this model, the active site changes shape as it interacts with the substrate. When the substrate is fully locked in the exact position, the process of catalysis begins. 

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