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Definition: Enzymes are biomolecules that catalyze (i.e., increase the rates of) chemical reactions. Almost all enzymes are proteins. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process are called substrates, and the enzyme converts them into different molecules, called the products. Almost all processes in a biological cell need enzymes to occur at significant rates. Since enzymes are selective for their substrates and speed up only a few reactions from among many possibilities, the set of enzymes made in a cell determines which metabolic pathways occur in that cell.
Example: Lactase is the enzyme that breaks down the compound lactose.