Crystalline trypsinogen is most readily and completely transformed into trypsin by means of enterokinase in the range of pH 5.2–6.0 at 5°C. and at a concentration of trypsinogen of not more than 0.1 mg. per ml. The action of enterokinase under these conditions is that of a typical enzyme. The process follows closely the course of a catalytic unimolecular reaction, the rate of formation of trypsin being proportional to the concentration of enterokinase added and the ultimate amount of trypsin formed being independent of the concentration of enterokinase.
The catalytic action of enterokinase on crystalline trypsinogen in dilute solution at pH more alkaline than 6.0 and in concentrated solution at pH even slightly below 6.0 is complicated by the partial transformation of the trypsinogen into inert protein which can no longer be changed into trypsin even by a large excess of enterokinase. This secondary reaction is catalyzed by the trypsin formed and the rate of the reaction is proportional to the concentration of trypsin as well as to the concentration of trypsinogen in solution. Hence under these conditions only a small part of the trypsinogen is changed by enterokinase into trypsin while a considerable part of the trypsinogen is transformed into inert protein, the more so the lower the concentration of enterokinase used.
The kinetics of the formation of trypsin by means of enterokinase when accompanied by the formation of inert protein can be explained quantitatively on the theoretical assumption that both reactions are of the simple catalytic unimolecular type, the catalyst being enterokinase in the first reaction and trypsin in the second reaction.