Lipases are acyl hydrolases that play a key role in fat digestion by cleaving long-chain triglycerides into polar lipids. Due to an opposite polarity between the enzyme (hydrophilic) and their substrates (lipophilic), lipase reaction occurs at the interface between the aqueous and the oil phases. Hence, interfaces are the key spots for lipase biocatalysis and an appropriate site for modulating lipolysis. Surprisingly enough, knowledge about the effects of the interfacial composition on lipase catalysis is still limited and only described by the term "interfacial quality". Recent systematic studies based on a biophysical approach allowed for the first time to show the effects of the interfacial microenvironment on lipase catalysis. These studies demonstrate that lipase activity as a function of interfacial composition is more attributed to substrate inaccessibility rather than to enzyme denaturation or inactivation, as it is often hypothesized. A detailed analysis of the interfacial properties of all compounds involved in triglyceride digestion revealed that lipolysis is a self-regulated reaction. This feedback mechanism can be explored as a new avenue to control lipase catalysis. To substantiate this hypothesis, oil hydrolysis in a model gastro-intestinal system was performed, which can be seen as an interfacial engineering approach to enzyme reactivity control. The presented characterization of the interfacial composition and its consequences provide a new approach for the understanding of lipase reactions at interfaces with direct impact on biotechnological and health care applications. ?? 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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