Q:

What does catalase do?

A:

Quick Answer

Catalase is an enzyme found in organisms exposed to oxygen. It breaks down hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen, according the Encyclopedia Britannica. It is found in large amounts in the tissues of mammals, and it helps prevent damage to tissues from peroxide, which is a byproduct of many metabolic reactions.

Continue Reading
What does catalase do?
Credit: Vossman CC-BY-SA 3.0

Full Answer

According to the National Institutes of Health, oxidative stress from hydrogen peroxide is thought to be related to many chronic or late onset diseases such as diabetes, asthma, Alzheimer's and many cancers. According to the Protein Data Bank, catalase is one of the most efficient enzymes found in cells. A single catalase molecule can break down millions of hydrogen peroxide molecules. Human catalases use an iron ion to help in this very rapid reaction. Because catalase is involved in breaking down very reactive molecules, it is uncommonly stable for an enzyme. Organisms that rely on oxygen to power their cells must carefully control its presence in their systems because oxygen is easily converted into other reactive compounds that can cause significant damage. Chemical reactions involving electrons can convert oxygen into superoxide radicals, hydrogen peroxide or hydroxyl radicals, all of which are dangerous molecules that attack and mutate DNA and need to be broken down and neutralized.

Learn more about Biology

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is the importance of the Kingdom Protista?

    A:

    The most significant importance of the kingdom Protista is as primary producers, and thus food sources, for other organisms, as well as generators of oxygen. Single-celled oceanic algae, which are members of Protista, actually produce the majority of atmospheric oxygen via photosynthesis. Protista are also important as pathogens, consumers and decomposers. In a few cases, as with coral and termites, they are also crucial symbiotes.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Why do humans need air?

    A:

    Human beings require air because, like all other animals, they are aerobic organisms who require oxygen, which is a component of air. While oxygen is found in water, humans evolved to extract the oxygen from air, as birds, mammals and reptiles do, instead of from the water, as fish and some amphibians do. Additionally, air is necessary to keep the planet warm as it insulates the planet like a blanket.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How do unicellular organisms breathe?

    A:

    Unicellular organisms do not breathe in the typical sense, but they respirate by allowing oxygen to enter the cell membrane through the process of diffusion. Because they are so small, they do not have the organs, pores and entryways to breathe like multicellular organisms.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What enzyme separates the two strands of nucleotides in DNA?

    A:

    The enzyme that separates the two strands of nucleotides in DNA is helicase. Enzymes are protein molecules that speed up chemical reactions.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore