Are Enzymes Named?
One researcher reports treating grain, sorghum or barley with the
enzyme "gumase" while another reports the same with
the enzyme "beta-glucanase" When methodologies are
examined, it is discovered that both of these preparations are
the same product. Unfortunately, this apparent contradiction in
terms happens often. Enzymes have been named by several
methods and this fact has been known to cause confusion
in their classification. For example, common or "trivial"
names of enzymes, generally contain a prefix representing the
name of the substance or substrate upon which they act
or affect, followed by the suffix "ase".
The "ase" simply denotes or identifies that the substance
is an enzyme. Examples of this system of nomenclature includes the enzyme
that catalyzes the conversion of proteins into their
component amino acids, the name of this enzyme is "protease"
Another example is the enzyme that accelerates
the breakdown of the two components of starch into sugars.
The components of starch are known as "amylose" and "amylo-pectin",
thus, the enzyme helping to break them down is called "amylase".
Confusion may exist, however, when older names of enzymes are used. Included
in these older terms are ficin, pepsin, bromelin and trypsin, which
are older trivial names of individual types of protease preparations,
the enzymes that accelerate digestion of proteins. There are also
many sub- classes of enzymes. Amylases are a prime example; subclasses
of amylase include: alpha-amylase, beta-amylase, and gluco-amylase,
to name a few. All these enzymes do is accelerate the digestion
of starch and are broadly classified as amylases, but
their actions are all slightly different in nature.
To help sort this out, the International Union of Biochemistry in
1961 proposed a system for enzymes' classification and naming which
is finding acceptance mainly in this discussion. One
example of this system, however, is the term: "alpha 1,
4-glucan glucanohydrolase" which is a name for alpha-amylase.
All these systems of nomenclature may become confusing to someone
who has use for only a few types of enzymes or uses them for industrial
or agricultural purposes. Therefore, the use of the more widely
known terms such as "amylase" and "protease"
are more or less universally in these fields. It should be remembered,
however, that there are many types of enzymes that fit into these
broad categories that may be more or less suitable for specific
agriculturally related application. The final selection for a
specific application should be made only after consulting a knowledgeable
individual well versed in the technical aspects
of the particular enzyme requirements and applicable characteristics.