Michaelis-Menten equation and detailed balance in enzymatic networks

J Phys Chem B. 2011 May 12;115(18):5493-8. doi: 10.1021/jp110924w. Epub 2011 Apr 5.


Many enzymatic reactions in biochemistry are far more complex than the celebrated Michaelis-Menten scheme, but the observed turnover rate often obeys the hyperbolic dependence on the substrate concentration, a relation established almost a century ago for the simple Michaelis-Menten mechanism. To resolve the longstanding puzzle, we apply the flux balance method to predict the functional form of the substrate dependence in the mean turnover time of complex enzymatic reactions and identify detailed balance (i.e., the lack of unbalanced conformational current) as a sufficient condition for the Michaelis-Menten equation to describe the substrate concentration dependence of the turnover rate in an enzymatic network. This prediction can be verified in single-molecule event-averaged measurements using the recently proposed signatures of detailed balance violations. The finding helps analyze recent single-molecule studies of enzymatic networks and can be applied to other external variables, such as force-dependence and voltage-dependence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Enzymes / chemistry*
  • Enzymes / metabolism
  • Kinetics


  • Enzymes