Conformation-changing enzymes and macromolecular crowding†
We study how crowding affects the activity and catalysis-enhanced diffusion of enzymes and passive tracers by employing a fluctuating-dumbbell model of conformation-changing enzymes. Our Brownian dynamics simulations reveal that the diffusion of enzymes depends qualitatively on the type of crowding. If only enzymes are present in the system, the catalysis-induced enhancement of the enzyme diffusion – somewhat counter-intuitively – increases with crowding, while it decreases if crowding is due to inert particles. For the tracers, the diffusion enhancement increases with increasing the enzyme concentration. We also show how the enzyme activity is reduced by crowding and propose a simple expression to describe this reduction. Our results highlight subtle effects at play concerning enzymatic activity and macromolecular transport in crowded systems, such as, e.g., the interior of living cells.