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By Professor Nigel Scrutton, Professor Les Dutton FRS, Dr Andrew Munro and Dr Mike Sutcliffe

Enzymes are catalysts that can achieve substantial rate enhancements over the uncatalysed reaction. The physical basis of this catalysis remains controversial. Theoretical frameworks, computational simulations and experimental observations are emerging that might explain their catalytic potency. Amongst others, potential roles for electrostatics, quantum tunnelling, coupled protein motions, low-barrier hydrogen bonds and near attack conformers will be discussed.