The rates of hydrolysis of TrEE, TEE, and ATEE1 by α-chymotrypsin were determined in media of variable dielectric strength. Many substances which modify the dielectric constant of the medium, exert additional specific effects on the reaction rate, noticeable at more or less elevated concentrations. Notwithstanding, it is possible to differentiate the dielectric and specific effects by comparing the rates in solvents of distinct nature at relatively low concentrations. Thus, the effect of varying the dielectric strength could be studied within wider ranges (ΔD = 20 with TrEE and ca. 28 with ATEE) than in the previous study of trypsin (ΔD = 12). The dielectric effect on α-chymotrypsin is the opposite of that observed with trypsin. In both cases there is a linear relationship between the logarithm of the rate of hydrolysis and the reciprocal of the dielectric constant. The slope is negative with α-chymotrypsin and positive with trypsin. According to expressions relating the dielectric constant to the rate in non-enzymatic reactions, the behavior of α-chymotrypsin is like that of a negative ion, while trypsin behaves as a positive ion. The enzyme activity appears to depend upon the arrangement of charges in the enzyme and substrate molecules, rather than on the presence of certain atomic groupings in the substrate.

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