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noun, plural: enzymes

(biochemistry) A catalyst or a chemical produced by cells to generally speed up specific chemical reaction without changing the chemical reaction at the end of the reaction


An enzyme is a catalyst or a chemical produced by cells to speed up a biochemical reaction. It is typically a protein that acts on certain organic substances by promoting chemical changes through catalysis. For example, pepsin is an enzyme that aids in digestion.

Enzyme is usually a protein molecule with a characteristic sequence of amino acids that fold to produce a specific three-dimensional structure, which gives the molecule unique properties. Other molecule with catalytic activity is ribozyme, an enzyme made of RNA rather than protein.

Enzymes are usually classified and named according to the reaction they catalyze. The International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology have developed a nomenclature for enzymes, the EC numbers. They are as follows:

Word origin: German enzym, Medieval Greek enzūmos, (leavened)

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Related term(s):

Related form(s):

  • enzymatic (adjective, of, relating to, characterized by, or caused by enzyme)
  • enzymic (adjective)
  • enzymatically (adverb)
  • enzymically (adverb)