The concentration of an inhibitor that decreases the rate of an enzyme-catalysed reaction by 50%, symbolized i0.5, is often used in pharmacological studies to characterize inhibitors. It can be estimated from the common inhibition plots used in biochemistry by means of the fact that the extrapolated inhibitor concentration at which the rate becomes infinite is equal to −i0.5. This method is, in principle, more accurate than comparing the rates at various different inhibitor concentrations, and inferring the value of i0.5 by interpolation. Its reciprocal, 1/i0.5, is linearly dependent on v0/V, the uninhibited rate divided by the limiting rate, and the extrapolated value of v0/V at which 1/i0.5 is zero allows the type of inhibition to be characterized: this value is 1 if the inhibition is strictly competitive; greater than 1 if the inhibition is mixed with a predominantly competitive component; infinite (i.e. 1/i0.5 does not vary with v0/V) if the inhibition is pure non-competitive (i.e. mixed with competitive and uncompetitive components equal); negative if the inhibition is mixed with a predominantly uncompetitive component; and zero if it is strictly uncompetitive. The type of analysis proposed has been tested experimentally by examining inhibition of lactate dehydrogenase by oxalate (an uncompetitive inhibitor with respect to pyruvate) and oxamate (a competitive inhibitor with respect to pyruvate), and of cytosolic malate dehydrogenase by hydroxymalonate (a mixed inhibitor with respect to oxaloacetate). In all cases there is excellent agreement between theory and experiment.

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