A zymogen is an inactive enzyme
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates...

Protein precursor
A protein precursor, also called a pro-protein or pro-peptide, is an inactive protein that can be turned into an active form by posttranslational modification. The name of the precursor for a protein is often prefixed by pro...

. A zymogen requires a biochemical
Biochemistry, sometimes called biological chemistry, is the study of chemical processes in living organisms, including, but not limited to, living matter. Biochemistry governs all living organisms and living processes...

 change (such as a hydrolysis
Hydrolysis is a chemical reaction during which molecules of water are split into hydrogen cations and hydroxide anions in the process of a chemical mechanism. It is the type of reaction that is used to break down certain polymers, especially those made by condensation polymerization...

 reaction revealing the active site, or changing the configuration to reveal the active site) for it to become an active enzyme. The biochemical change usually occurs in a lysosome
thumb|350px|Schematic of typical animal cell, showing subcellular components. [[Organelle]]s: [[nucleoli]] [[cell nucleus|nucleus]] [[ribosomes]] [[vesicle |vesicle]] rough [[endoplasmic reticulum]]...

 where a specific part of the precursor enzyme is cleaved in order to activate it. The amino acid
Amino acid
Amino acids are molecules containing an amine group, a carboxylic acid group and a side-chain that varies between different amino acids. The key elements of an amino acid are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen...

 chain that is released upon activation is called the activation peptide
Peptides are short polymers of amino acid monomers linked by peptide bonds. They are distinguished from proteins on the basis of size, typically containing less than 50 monomer units. The shortest peptides are dipeptides, consisting of two amino acids joined by a single peptide bond...


The pancreas
The pancreas is a gland organ in the digestive and endocrine system of vertebrates. It is both an endocrine gland producing several important hormones, including insulin, glucagon, and somatostatin, as well as a digestive organ, secreting pancreatic juice containing digestive enzymes that assist...

 secretes zymogens partly to prevent the enzymes from digesting protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

s in the cells
Cell (biology)
The cell is the basic structural and functional unit of all known living organisms. It is the smallest unit of life that is classified as a living thing, and is often called the building block of life. The Alberts text discusses how the "cellular building blocks" move to shape developing embryos....

 in which they are synthesised. Fungi
A fungus is a member of a large group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds , as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as a kingdom, Fungi, which is separate from plants, animals, and bacteria...

 also secrete digestive enzyme
Digestive enzyme
'Digestive enzymes' are enzymes that break down polymeric macromolecules into their smaller building blocks, in order to facilitate their absorption by the body. Digestive enzymes are found in the digestive tract of animals where they aid in the digestion of food as well as inside the cells,...

s into the environment as zymogens. The external environment has a different pH
In chemistry, pH is a measure of the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution. Pure water is said to be neutral, with a pH close to 7.0 at . Solutions with a pH less than 7 are said to be acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic or alkaline...

 than inside the fungal cell and this changes the zymogen's structure into an active enzyme.


Examples of zymogens:
  • Angiotensinogen
  • Trypsinogen
    Trypsinogen is the precursor form or zymogen of the pancreatic enzyme trypsin. It is found in pancreatic juice, along with amylase, lipase, and chymotrypsinogen. It is activated by enteropeptidase, which is found in the intestinal mucosa, to form trypsin. Once activated, the trypsin can activate...

  • Chymotrypsinogen
    Chymotrypsinogen is a precursor of the digestive enzyme chymotrypsin.This molecule is inactive and must be cleaved by trypsin, and then by other...

  • Pepsinogen
  • Most proteins in the coagulation system
    Coagulation is a complex process by which blood forms clots. It is an important part of hemostasis, the cessation of blood loss from a damaged vessel, wherein a damaged blood vessel wall is covered by a platelet and fibrin-containing clot to stop bleeding and begin repair of the damaged vessel...

  • Some of the proteins of the complement system
  • Caspase
    Caspases, or cysteine-aspartic proteases or cysteine-dependent aspartate-directed proteases are a family of cysteine proteases that play essential roles in apoptosis , necrosis, and inflammation....

  • Proelastase
  • Prolipase
  • Procarboxypolypeptidases

External links

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