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Water's role in biological catalysis?

  1. Dec 18, 2012 #1
    Why is water required to be present in biological processes involving catalysis. I read that online and the way it was written made it look sort of obvious ( like, duh ) but I don't understand it. Help?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 18, 2012 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    All biological processes evolved in water solutions, so the presence of water is taken as granted. Doesn't mean some of them can't be replicated in different solvents, but I suppose they will be much slower, as water has very particular properties.
  4. Dec 18, 2012 #3


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    Science Advisor
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    Biological catalysts (for the most part, enzymes) are complex polymers that must fold into a specific shape in order to perform their function. Much of the energy driving the folding of these polymers into the correct shape comes from the hydrophobic effect, which forces non-polar regions of the polymer toward the interior of the structure and polar regions toward the exterior. In non-aqueous solutions, these polymers will not fold correctly and therefore will not be able to catalyze any reactions.
  5. Dec 22, 2012 #4
    Thanks guys.
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