In the next article, a cofactor is defined as any nonenzyme component that promotes the catalytic prowess of an enzyme. The definition emphasizes function rather than structure. Since nearly a third of all enzymes require metal ions for catalytic function, it is apparent that inorganic components make up a substantial number of cofactors. Most of the trace metals have a common denominator in their intimate involvement with enzymes. Many are active site components that bind substrates, accept electrons, stabilize tertiary and quaternary structures, or even regulate the pace of metabolic pathways. In this article, the individual metal ion cofactors are discussed.
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