What are enzymes made of?
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Evolution of cells
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When did enzymes evolve?
How do cells make enzymes?
What do enzymes do?
The cell pushes some of these enzymes outside the cell to digest food by breaking it apart into smaller pieces that can get through the cell membrane. Other enzymes can digest smaller molecules floating in the cytoplasm inside the cell. Some enzymes grab two small molecules and attach them together to make a larger molecule, like a lipid to fix the cell membrane.
When the enzyme is done, it lets the new molecule go, and it’s ready to grab two more molecules and do it again. Each kind of enzyme has its own shape, and it will only work with molecules that fit into it exactly, like having the right puzzle piece in a puzzle, or the right key for a lock. That way each kind of enzyme can do its job and not interfere with anything else in the cell.
Eukaryote cells and enzymes
Eukaryote cells make enzymes in the endoplasmic reticulum, following instructions from the cell’s RNA. Then those enzymes, in turn, build more enzymes. The enzymes float out of the endoplasmic reticulum into the Golgi bodies and then into the lysosomes, where they break down large molecules of food or garbage.
Or the enzymes float into vacuoles, or into the cell’s nucleus where the enzymes help repair the cell’s DNA or build more RNA molecules. Some enzymes float around in the cytoplasm where they can break up viruses or germs that attack the cell.
How do new enzymes evolve?
New enzymes appear accidentally, when a old kind of enzyme accidentally gets broken or forms wrong. Usually these broken enzymes are no good to the cell, and sooner or later the enzymes in a lysosome break them down and recycle their parts.
But sometimes it turns out that the broken enzyme happens to be the right shape to match up with, for instance, a new virus that is trying to invade the cell and kill it. Maybe the new enzyme can break up that virus and kill it instead, saving the cell.
If the new enzyme turns out to be useful, then cells that make that enzyme will survive better, and the cells that don’t make that enzyme will die of the disease that virus causes. Measles is an example of a disease that we’re now better at surviving that we used to be. Your own cells each make more than a thousand different kinds of enzymes.
Enzymes that work outside of cells
Those enzymes break down your food so it can get into your cells through the cell membrane.