Many biochemical reactions are confined to interfaces, such as membranes or cell walls. Despite their importance, no canonical rate laws describing the kinetics of surface-active enzymes exist. Combining the approach chosen by Michaelis and Menten 100 years ago with concepts from surface chemical physics, we here present an approach to derive generic rate laws of enzymatic processes at surfaces. We illustrate this by a simple reversible conversion on a surface to stress key differences to the classical case in solution. The available area function, a concept from surface physics which enters the rate law, covers different models of adsorption and presents a unifying perspective on saturation effects and competition between enzymes. A remarkable implication is the direct dependence of the rate of a given enzyme on all other enzymatic species able to bind at the surface. The generic approach highlights general principles of the kinetics of surface-active enzymes and allows to build consistent mathematical models of more complex pathways involving reactions at interfaces. © 2013 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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