More than fine tuning

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Science  19 Dec 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6216, pp. 1456-1457
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa2878

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How do electric fields affect enzymatic processes? Binding and crystallographic studies have shown that electrostatic interactions are important in the substrate-binding step that initiates enzyme catalysis. However, for the subsequent steps, experimental data have been limited. The study of electric field effects on the transition state was therefore largely restricted to theory (1). On page 1510 of this issue, Fried et al. (2) use a recently developed technique to quantify the electrostatic contribution to the ratelimiting step of an enzymatic reaction. They show that the local electric field accelerates the reaction, a finding that is likely to apply to other catalytic reactions.