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xarqi, Generalist
Category: Homework
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Customer Question

Several years ago, commercials for a particular brand of laundry detergent depicted enzymes as powerful "Pac-Man" figures that gobbled up dirt and grime.
Is this image of enzymes correct? Why or why not?
Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: Homework
Expert:  Steve -- a.k.a. Oreport replied 11 years ago.

Incorrect -- Enzymic action
either chemically bonds to -- or changes (aka converts) target
compounds (aka substrates) -- into something else (aka products) --
rather than consuming them.

Let me know if you need more input. If not, thanks for the
opportunity to assist you... I would really appreciate your honoring my
efforts by 'pushing the button' and Accepting this answer. Adding
a bonus -- should you wish to do so -- is always warmly welcomed.

Good Luck!


Expert:  xarqi replied 11 years ago.
The image is correct in that proteases and lipases etc will "chew
up" dirt and grime, that is, they will progressively degrade these
macromolecules into very small soluble fragments. They gobble
them up only to spit out the pieces though, something that I
don't recall being depicted in the "hungry enzyme" situation.
xarqi, Generalist
Category: Homework
Satisfied Customers: 596
xarqi and other Homework Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Oreport's Post: I am sorry but I accepted another answer.
Expert:  Steve -- a.k.a. Oreport replied 11 years ago.
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Expert:  xarqi replied 11 years ago.
Hi Steve:

Most visualisation of biochemical processes involves a degree of
abstraction. I know of cases where the best computer modelling
of novel drug interaction in an active site of a target protein
has yielded a picture with the drug in the wrong
orientation, discovered only once X-ray crystallographic studies
were done. We routinely depict DNA as a double helix, while
extra-helical structures caused by palindromic sequences may
play critical roles in transcriptional control.

The cartoon depiction of enzymes at work is correct, but only to
the extent that it indicates degradation of target
macromolecules through enzymatic catalysis. Ultimately, no
possible depiction of similar processes would be completely
correct as not everything is known about the processes involved.
It is all a matter of degree. The level of simplification of what we
do know about proteolysis etc as used in these cartoons is
appropriate given the audience. I doubt if many purchasers of
clothes detergent actually care how the conformation of the
proteases alters with pH, nor how the kinetics change with
temperature beyond whether they will clean their clothes in cold
water, nor even how the proteases involved are themselves
protected from degradation, if indeed they are.

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