The hydrolysis of p-nitrophenyl acetate catalysed by pectin methylesterase is competitively inhibited by pectin and does not require metal ions to occur. The results suggest that the activastion by metal ions may be explained by assuming that they interact with the substrate rather than with the enzyme. With pectin used as substrate, metal ions are required in order to allow the hydrolysis to occur in the presence of pectin methylesterase. This is explained by the existence of ‘blocks’ of carboxy groups on pectin that may trap enzyme molecules and thus prevent the enzyme reaction occurring. Metal ions may interact with these negatively charged groups, thus allowing the enzyme to interact with the ester bonds to be cleaved. At high concentrations, however, metal ions inhibit the enzyme reaction. This is again understandable on the basis of the view that some carboxy groups must be adjacent to the ester bond to be cleaved in order to allow the reaction to proceed. Indeed, if these groups are blocked by metal ions, the enzyme reaction cannot occur, and this is the reason for the apparent inhibition of the reaction by high concentrations of metal ions. Methylene Blue, which may be bound to pectin, may replace metal ions in the ‘activation’ and ‘inhibition’ of the enzyme reaction. A kinetic model based on these results has been proposed and fits the kinetic data very well. All the available results favour the view that metal ions do not affect the reaction through a direct interaction with enzyme, but rather with pectin.

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