Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Enzymes, and other Oddities.

So, are you getting tired of me talking of scientific things? There was the paregoric/heroin thing, followed by the ionic/covalent bonding thing. But I have been in love with biology, and especially human biology, since I discovered it. And now I'm taking Anatomy and Physiology--well, you can put up with me, or ignore me till I *recover.*

I'm still in Chapter 2 of the book, the one about body chemistry. Good GRIEF, the chapter goes over so many things--matter, atoms, molecules, elements, and compounds; ionic, covalent, and hydrogen bonding; acids, bases, and pH; sugars, complex carbohydrates, proteins, lipids; enzymes and ATP...all, absolutely all, fascinating, and makes you in awe of the One who created us and the world in which we live. But let me share two more things from this chapter--on molecular chaperones and one on enzymes.

Molecular chaperones are a class of globular proteins contained in all cells, which help proteins achieve their three-dimensional structure. Here's a quote from the book:

"Apparently, molecular chaperones have numerous protein-related roles to play. For example, specific molecular chaperones:

1) prevent accidental, premature, or incorrect folding of poly-peptide chains or their association with other poly-peptides
2) Aid the desired folding and association process
3) Help to translocate proteins and certain metal ions (copper, iron, zinc) across cell membranes
4) Promote the breakdown of damaged or denatured proteins
5) Interact with other cells to trigger the immune response to diseased cells in the body"

Human Anatomy and Physiology, Marieb and Hoehn, ninth ed., p. 51.

And, about enzymes...

Enzymes are proteins that act as biological catalysts, substances that regulate and accelerate the rate of chemical reactions, but are not used up in the process. For instance, you can accelerate the rate of a chemical reaction using heat: the more heat, the faster it will go. However, the human body runs on a delicate balance, heat-wise. If your temp. goes up too high, cells (and you) die. That strategy won't work for the chemical reactions that go on inside us. But, without enzymes, biochemical reactions would happen so slowly that for all practical purposes, they would not happen at all.

"Each enzyme is chemically specific. Some enzymes control only a single chemical reaction....the presence of specific enzymes determines not only which reactions will be speeded up, but which reactions will occur--no enzyme, no reaction. This also means that unwanted or unnecessary reactions will not occur...Some enzymes are produced in an inactive form and must be activated in some way before they can function [such as a change in pH]. For example, enzymes produced in the pancreas are activated in the small intestine, where they actually do their work. If they were produced in active form, the pancreas would digest itself." and, finally,

"Because enzymes are unchanged by their catalytic role and can act again and again, cells need only small amounts of each enzyme. Most enzymes can catalyze millions of reactions per minute."

Marieb and Hoehn, pp. 52-53.

Now, probably the language is a little tough for you to follow. That's okay, it is for me, too! But what I wanted to point out, and what I am sure you *can* understand, is how incredibly ungrasp-able our Creator God is. The more you learn about how the body works, the more you understand how ridiculous the notion of "creating life" in a laboratory would be. My textbook says over and over, "still we don't know the exact function" of this or that thing. Or "exactly how it does its function."

My favorite definition of science is "discovering what God has already done." We will never get to the end of it, I'm sure. The minute you learn one thing, the next is already upon you, and it is a mystery. I have heard many, many times that "one cannot be both a scientist and religious." Baby, I don't know how you can be a scientist and *not* be a believer.