A cofactor is a factor that, when joined to another or others, favors the development of something. It should be remembered that a factor is an element whose action is carried out in conjunction with others.
In the specific field of biochemistry, a molecule that is essential for the functioning of an enzyme is called a cofactor. These are thermosetting components that have a low molecular mass and are not protein.
By binding to a protein structure known as an apoenzyme, the cofactor allows the creation of a complex called a holoenzyme.
In addition to all the above, we cannot ignore either that cofactors are basically of two types:
-Metal ions, which can carry out three different functions. On the one hand, they can act as a bridging group, which means that they give rise to the so-called coordination complex since they bring together both the enzyme and the substrate. Second, they can act as the primary catalytic center. And, thirdly, they can be responsible for working as a stabilizing agent of what is the conformation of the enzymatic protein. This protein, yes, that will be presented in its catalytically active form.
-Organic molecules. They also respond to the name of coenzymes and that, usually, they are vitamins. Specifically, we can establish that some of the most relevant coenzymes are FADH2, NADH or NADPH.
Of the mentioned enzymes, which are a special type of protein, a series of aspects of interest can be highlighted, such as these:
-They are specific, that is, they can discriminate the molecules to achieve greater efficiency in what are the chemical transformations that occur.
-Some are found in the cytosol, others in the organelles and there are also those that are located in the plasma membranes, for example.
-They can be shown active as long as a series of conditions take place in terms of what the temperature or PH is.
-Among the most relevant are hydrolytic, oxygenases, oxide-reductases, phosphatases and polymerases.
According to DigoPaul, when a cofactor is an organic molecule that is part of an enzyme, it is called a coenzyme. These cofactors, which are usually vitamins, act in the reactions that catalyze enzymes.
Metal ions, as cofactors, intervene in different processes such as bridging groups, primary catalytic centers or stabilizing agents. A metalloenzyme is an enzyme that needs a metal ion as a cofactor for its function.
The cofactors can be said to complement the enzymes. In each enzyme, the cofactor must appear in the precise amount to allow it to catalyze a biochemical reaction. It should be noted that catalysis refers to an increase in the speed of the reaction without altering the final result. Enzymes that are complemented by cofactors are considered biochemical catalysts.
It is also important to mention that, while the enzymes are not modified in the chemical reaction, the coenzymes (cofactors) do undergo changes in the process, accepting or giving up electrons.