Genetic Engineering - Cloning, DNA, Stem Cells Pros and Cons
Molecular genetics


The future technology

What Goes On in the Cytoplasm

Thousands and thousands of different chemical reactions take place in the cytoplasm.

Here's an example of a very generic chemical reaction:

In the above reaction, molecules X and Y are the reactants and molecule Z is the product. However, the reaction won't happen unless X and Y get together.

X and Y need a mutual "friend" that will help them get together in the same place at the same time so they can react and form Z. The mutual friend is an enzyme. Here's a picture of an enzyme that would work nicely to get X and Y together.

Molecule E

We'll call the enzyme molecule E. If E is around, the reaction between X and Y occurs much more quickly than if E is not around. We call E a catalyst. Catalysts simply make chemical reactions occur faster. E's job is to catalyse the reaction between X and Y.

Notice that the spaces on the top of molecule E match up with molecule X's shape. The spaces on the bottom match up with molecule Y's shape.

So if molecule E is floating around in the cytoplasm of a cell, X and Y have a good chance of getting together. Once they do, they react to form molecule Z.

When the reaction is finished, molecule E is still around, and is unchanged. It's now free to go and find another pair of X and Y to catalyse another reaction between them. So here's the first important fact to remember about an enzyme:

When an enzyme catalyses a reaction, it is not used up in the reaction.

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