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Study Notes: Enzyme Storage Conditions

General Characteristics
Enzymes are large proteins that act as catalysts to speed up reactions without themselves being changed or consumed. They are produced by plants, animals and microorganisms but are not living organisms themselves, but chemical compounds. Enzymes are highly active so that only small quantities are required and highly specific so that a single enzyme usually catalyses only a single reaction. Each enzyme has its own pH and temperature range, and the process of its reaction depends on those conditions along with time and concentration.

Activity
Enzyme activity is measured using assay procedures that are specific for each particular enzyme.

Storage
Shelf life and storage conditions for enzymes depend on their physical form. Liquids usually have the shortest shelf life and should be stored under refrigeration. Powders and tablets are usually stable for short periods (3 months) at room temperature, however should be stored under refrigeration for longer periods. Some enzymes should be stored at –20°C or –80°C for any period, as they are very unstable. Enzymes can normally survive three freeze and thaw cycles. All enzymes should be stored away from direct sunlight.

Safety
Because enzymes are proteins, avoid skin contact and inhalation of dust or aerosols that can cause allergic reactions.

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