How do bacteria distinguish enantiomers?

1 Answer
Dec 13, 2014

Bacteria can distinguish enantiomers because the enzymes in bacteria are chiral.

Bacteria release enzymes to break down substances, and these enzymes consist of amino acids.

Amino acids are chiral. So the receptor sites on the enzymes have a specific shape that fits one enantiomer of a substrate much better than the other.

Molecules with receptor sites from

One enantiomer then undergoes an enzyme-catalyzed reaction much faster than the other.