Arising from careful measurements of the thermal behaviour of enzymes, a new model, the Equilibrium Model, has been developed to explain more fully the effects of temperature on enzymes. The model describes the effect of temperature on enzyme activity in terms of a rapidly reversible active–inactive (but not denatured) transition, revealing an additional and reversible mechanism for enzyme activity loss in addition to irreversible thermal inactivation at high temperatures. Two new thermal parameters, Teq and ΔHeq, describe the active–inactive transition, and enable a complete description of the effect of temperature on enzyme activity. We describe here the Model and its fit to experimental data, methods for the determination of the Equilibrium Model parameters, and the implications of the Model for the environmental adaptation and evolution of enzymes, and for biotechnology.

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