Word of the Week (225): CATALASE (probability 17405), by David Sutton

CATALASE is an ENZYME (or ENZYM) that catalyses the reduction of hydrogen peroxide; it has an associated adjective CATALATIC.

I have to say that from a word-lover's point of view I find enzymes pretty boring, though one has to be grateful for their existence, as biochemical processes without them would be decidedly leisurely and probably a little organism in a warm pond somewhere would still be waiting to begin its long journey towards that evolutionary ultimate, the top Scrabble player.

Most enzymes are proteins, and the convention is that they have names ending in -ASE. There a hundreds of the things, and here are just a few of the ones that are most useful (I mean from the Scrabble rather than the biological point of view). It's probably not a lot of good giving definitions in this case, because if you are a biochemist you will know them and if you're not you won't understand them.


It is worth noting that there is a verbal link between certain enzymes and their associated sugars, the convention being that the name of the sugar ends in -OSE where the enzyme ends in -ASE. Thus we have LACTOSE, MALTOSE, PECTOSE and SUCROSE


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