Epimerase and racemase

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Epimerases and racemases are isomerase enzymes that catalyze the inversion of stereochemistry in biological molecules.[1] Racemases catalyze the stereochemical inversion around the asymmetric carbon atom in a substrate having only one center of asymmetry. Epimerases catalyze the stereochemical inversion of the configuration about an asymmetric carbon atom in a substrate having more than one center of asymmetry, thus interconverting epimers.

Human epimerases include methylmalonyl-CoA epimerase, involved in the metabolic breakdown of the amino acids isoleucine, methionine and valine, and UDP-glucose 4-epimerase, which is used in the final step of galactose metabolism - catalyzing the reversible conversion of UDP-galactose to UDP-glucose.


  1. ^ Tanner, ME. (2002). "Understanding nature's strategies for enzyme-catalyzed racemization and epimerization". Acc. Chem. Res. 35 (4): 237–246. doi:10.1021/ar000056y. PMID 11955052. 

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