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Effect of Temperature on Enzyme Activity

Temperature of a system can be explained as the measure of the kinetic energy of the system molecules. It is observed that the kinetic energy of a system is directly proportional to the temperature of the system. An increase in the temperature of a system is as a result of an increase in the kinetic energy of the system. This change affects the rate of reaction of enzymes in the system. The collision of molecules in the system results to increased kinetic energy. This energy can be further converted into chemical energy. If the chemical potential energy of the molecules increases, a change in chemical state will be achieved. This is due to the activation energy in an exergonic reaction.

An increase in the temperature of the system will result into an increase in the number of collisions per unit time. As a result, the rate of reaction will be increased. The rate of collision of the enzymes increases in order to convert the substrates into products. Therefore, higher temperatures result to increased rate of reaction. Another effect of temperature observed on enzyme reaction is that, an increase in the temperature results increased heat in the molecules of the system. This is because as the temperature of the system is increased, the molecules in the system experience an increased internal energy. This internal energy is composed of the translational energy, vibrational, rotational and chemical energy involved in the bonding of the molecules. The heat energy is transformed into chemical energy. When the chemical energy increases, it breaks the weak bonds that unite the three dimensional shape of active proteins. Therefore, the proteins are inactivated in a process called denaturation. Since the enzymes are proteins in nature, they are negatively affected by an increase in the amount of heat as they will be denatured. It can be concluded that increased heat leads to reduced enzyme activity.

Enzymes operate well at the optimum temperatures. Exposure to heat above 40oC causes the enzymes to be denatured. The temperature range within which enzymes operate optimally is known as the temperature optimum of the enzyme. It is observed that an increase in temperature by 10oC will result to an increase in the rate of enzyme reaction by 50 to 100 percent. With time, enzymes are deactivated even at moderate temperatures. The most suitable way is to store enzymes below 5oC. Below this temperature, majority of enzymes lose their activity.

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