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Reaction kinetics in living systems.

  • H Eyring
  • S M Ma
  • I Ueda
Publication Date
Sep 01, 1981
  • Biology
  • Physics


In this report we treat reaction rates, equilibrium theory, and irreversible thermodynamics as different aspects of a single discipline. In biological reactions the rate is ultimately controlled by enzymes and other proteins of complex structure and high molecular weight. The needed formalism can be placed in one-to-one correspondence with appropriate electrical and mechanical networks. An enzyme molecule has zwitter ions anchored in the polypeptide chain, which enable it to distort the substrate by electrostatic polarization. Water weakens the induced or existing polar bonds and so speeds reaction. Several biological processes, such as luminescence, catalysis, nerve excitation, and anesthesia, in which enzymatic reactions play a major part are discussed from this point of view. We also have discussed the energy consumption and coupling effect in living systems. It is likely that a small fraction of bonds can become energy rich through the process of quenching and that unsymmetrical barriers in biological systems act like transistors in making the driving forces more efficient by a valve effect.

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