, Volume 58, Issue 10, pp 1451-1460

Superefficient enzymes

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Diffusion-controlled enzymes are characterized by second-order rate constants in the range 108-1010 M-1s-1. These values are at the upper end of the observed rates of many enzyme-substrate reactions and have been predicted by theoretical studies on bimolecular reaction in solution. Such enzymes are considered to be perfect, since their rate-limiting step is not due to any chemical event but to the diffusional association rate between the enzyme and the substrate. Often the enzyme-substrate encounter is facilitated either through the presence of a strong attractive electric field, produced by charges on the enzyme surface, or through the reduction in the dimension of the search process. Here we provide a brief review of some of the enzymes characterized by a very fast second-order constant, focusing attention on triose phosphate isomerase and Cu,Zn superoxide dismutase taken as typical examples of such highly tuned enzymes.

Received 29 January 2001; received after revision 23 March 2001; accepted 19 April 2001