Enzymes /ˈɛnzaɪmz/ are macromolecular biological catalysts. Enzymes accelerate, or catalyze, chemical reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process upon which enzymes may act are called substrates and the enzyme converts these into different molecules, called products. Almost all metabolic processes in the cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates fast enough to sustain life, the set of enzymes made in a cell determines which metabolic pathways occur in that cell. The study of enzymes is called enzymology, enzymes are known to catalyze more than 5,000 biochemical reaction types. Most enzymes are proteins, although a few are catalytic RNA molecules, enzymes specificity comes from their unique three-dimensional structures. Like all catalysts, enzymes increase the rate of a reaction by lowering its activation energy, some enzymes can make their conversion of substrate to product occur many millions of times faster. An extreme example is orotidine 5-phosphate decarboxylase, which allows a reaction that would take millions of years to occur in milliseconds. Chemically, enzymes are like any catalyst and are not consumed in chemical reactions, enzymes differ from most other catalysts by being much more specific. Enzyme activity can be affected by other molecules, inhibitors are molecules that decrease enzyme activity, many drugs and poisons are enzyme inhibitors. An enzymes activity decreases markedly outside its optimal temperature and pH, some enzymes are used commercially, for example, in the synthesis of antibiotics. French chemist Anselme Payen was the first to discover an enzyme, diastase and he wrote that alcoholic fermentation is an act correlated with the life and organization of the yeast cells, not with the death or putrefaction of the cells. In 1877, German physiologist Wilhelm Kühne first used the term enzyme, the word enzyme was used later to refer to nonliving substances such as pepsin, and the word ferment was used to refer to chemical activity produced by living organisms. Eduard Buchner submitted his first paper on the study of yeast extracts in 1897, in a series of experiments at the University of Berlin, he found that sugar was fermented by yeast extracts even when there were no living yeast cells in the mixture. He named the enzyme that brought about the fermentation of sucrose zymase, in 1907, he received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of cell-free fermentation. Following Buchners example, enzymes are usually named according to the reaction they carry out, the biochemical identity of enzymes was still unknown in the early 1900s. Sumner showed that the enzyme urease was a protein and crystallized it. These three scientists were awarded the 1946 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, the discovery that enzymes could be crystallized eventually allowed their structures to be solved by x-ray crystallography. This high-resolution structure of lysozyme marked the beginning of the field of structural biology, an enzymes name is often derived from its substrate or the chemical reaction it catalyzes, with the word ending in -ase
The energies of the stages of a chemical reaction. Uncatalysed (dashed line), substrates need a lot of activation energy to reach a transition state, which then decays into lower-energy products. When enzyme catalysed (solid line), the enzyme binds the substrates (ES), then stabilizes the transition state (ES‡) to reduce the activation energy required to produce products (EP) which are finally released.