PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, v.115, no.46, pp.E10812 - E10821
NATL ACAD SCIENCES
Using a microscopic theory to analyze experiments, we demonstrate that enzymes are active matter. Superresolution fluorescence measurements—performed across four orders of magnitude of substrate concentration, with emphasis on the biologically relevant regime around or below the Michaelis–Menten constant—show that catalysis boosts the motion of enzymes to be superdiffusive for a few microseconds, enhancing their effective diffusivity over longer timescales. Occurring at the catalytic turnover rate, these fast ballistic leaps maintain direction over a duration limited by rotational diffusion, driving enzymes to execute wormlike trajectories by piconewton forces performing work of a few kBT against viscosity. The boosts are more frequent at high substrate concentrations, biasing the trajectories toward substrate-poor regions, thus exhibiting antichemotaxis, demonstrated here experimentally over a wide range of aqueous concentrations. Alternative noncatalytic, passive mechanisms that predict chemotaxis, cross-diffusion, and phoresis, are critically analyzed. We examine the physical interpretation of our findings, speculate on the underlying mechanism, and discuss the avenues they open with biological and technological implications. These findings violate the classical paradigm that chemical reaction and motility are distinct processes, and suggest reaction–motion coupling as a general principle of catalysis.