How Is Enzyme Denatured? 9 Facts You Should Know

This article would provide details on “how is enzyme denatured” along with other useful information associated with the denaturing process of the enzyme. 

Enzymes can be described as the proteins that ensure the speeding up of metabolism or help in various chemical reactions within our bodies. All living beings are identified to contain enzymes as our body has the natural abilities to produce them. 

What does it mean when an enzyme is denatured?

Denaturation is the process of breaking or unfolding the proteins in order to modify the standardised three-dimensional structure of the proteins. Denaturation in enzymes are described as the conformational change that can occur in the structure of the protein or the active site which can lead to the inactivity of the enzymes. 

The denaturation of the enzymes lead to the loss of the basic properties of the enzymes where they can no longer remain active and cannot perform the actual functions. 

Are all enzymes denatured?

Enzymes tend to engage in continuous functioning until denatured and each one of them functions under optimal characteristics. Thus, a drastic change in the optimal properties like change in the temperature or the pH level or exposure to any chemical solution can lead to the denaturation of all the enzymes. 

The denatured enzymes lose the ability to find the functional active site as they are not in their natural form. 

How is enzyme denatured?

Enzyme denaturation takes place when the structures of the enzymes engage in unfolding due to the exposure to various denaturants which further leads to the loss of the natural function of the enzymes. Denaturation of the enzyme leads to various conformational changes which has an impact on the solubility of the enzymes as well. There is the formation of aggregation where the enzymes get exposed to hydrophobic groups. 

When enzyme is denatured?

Under various circumstances the enzymes can get denatured, which are as follows:


Under normal conditions, the most enzymes are in tertiary structures, but under excess heat, the protein gets uncoiled. There are active sites for the enzymes, where the substrate could fit. On decoiling, only the primary structure of the protein remains which no longer fits into the active sites. 

Every enzyme has an optimal temperature between which the activity can be established, which is mostly 25-37 degrees Celsius but, on rising temperatures, the enzymes denature. 


The inhibitors can either be competitive or non-competitive or non-specific, or specific. These tend to bind to the enzymes and cause distortion of the active sites of the enzymes. Thus, alteration in the enzyme takes place causing it to denature.


Enzymes are identified to be proteins that function under a defined set of optimum activities. Extreme value of pH can lead to the denaturation of the enzymes. 

For example, the pH of the stomach is 2, only a certain set of enzymes can be active at that site. The similar enzyme would not survive at a pH 7 in the other parts of the body. 

Why is enzyme denatured?

Enzymes have been identified to have weak hydrogen bonds and hence are highly prone to denaturation by different denaturants like heating, acidity or stress. On denaturation, the functions of the enzyme are lost and hence the catalytic advantage is also lost in the body. 

An enzyme can undergo denaturalisation under extreme conditions, but can regain the tertiary structure quickly on restoring the optimal conditions. On regaining the  normal three-dimensional structure, the enzymes become functional and can engage in catalysing reactions. 

What will happen when an enzyme is denatured?

Enzymes consist of proteins which are further made of amino acid chains. The three dimensional shape of the enzymes are acquired through the folding of the proteins by the interactions between amino acids. There are intra- and intermolecular forces like covalent bonds, van der waals bonds and the hydrostatic bonds. On denaturation, these bonds get disrupted. 

The active sites of the enzymes are disrupted due to denaturation which would reduce the ability of the enzymes in binding with the substrates. In extreme cases, the entire structure of the enzyme break down which would cause loss in function. 

how is enzyme denatured
Denaturation decreases enzyme activity from Wikimedia

How to know if an enzyme has denatured?

Enzymes are made of proteins and these proteins are chains of amino acids which are linked from end to end. Denaturation breaks the bonds among the amino acids on denaturation and stops functioning. 

On denaturation, the shape of the active sites by the enzymes gets deformed or altered due to which the substrate does not fit into the assigned enzymes anymore. This leads to slowing down of the rate of reactions or even stopping. Thus, the normal functioning of the enzymes stops on denaturation. 

Can enzymes be destroyed by heating?

Denaturation of enzymes due to excess heat is among the common denaturants. The majority of enzymes are found in tertiary structures under normal circumstances, however excessive heat causes the protein to uncoil. Only the protein’s primary structure is left after decoiling, and it is no longer compatible with the active sites which leads to loss in the activity. 

Every enzyme has a range of temperatures where activity can be established, typically between 25 and 37 degrees Celsius, although enzymes denature at higher temperatures.


In conclusion, regarding the idea of “how is enzyme denatured”, it can be established that all enzymes can get denatured due to various denaturants like extreme pH, excess heat or inhibitors.

Sayantani Misra

Hi, I am Sayantani Mishra, a science enthusiast trying to cope with the pace of scientific developments with a master’s degree in Biotechnology. Let's connect through LinkedIn-

Recent Posts