The Unexplored Role of Water in Biochemical Reactions
Proteins and Active Sites – A General Overview
Each of our trillions of cells are intricately designed machines which are uniquely suited to carrying out a highly specific set of tasks. The most important components of these machines are proteins, often referred to as the workhorses of biochemistry. The goal of my work is to explore the unique role that water molecules can take in the functions of these amazing biomolecules. Every protein is essentially a long chain of amino acids, anywhere from ten to ten thousand links in length, where each link interacts with every other to fold the protein into a specific shape, which gives it its unique function. Many proteins function as “enzymes”, which means that their job is to speed up (catalyze) certain biologically important reactions, such as the breakdown of other proteins. Reactions such as this could take thousands of years to happen under normal conditions, but in the presence of the proper enzymes, they can proceed to completion in less than a second.