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I googled this, and I found only that shelf lives are around 2-3 years, but the enzymes use to work even after 5 years if you store them properly. I'd like to know how long I can use an enzyme in solution? Is it hours, days, months? If it is a lot shorter than the shelf life, then why is that?

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    $\begingroup$ Which enzyme and how are you storing it? $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Jan 31 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ @WYSIWYG I'd like to decide whether an inorganic catalyst or an organic one would be better for a task. It should catalyze a reaction for at least 2 years without any maintenance in the 10-30°C range. I think enzymes are not that durable, but I am not entirely sure. $\endgroup$ – inf3rno Jan 31 at 18:37
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    $\begingroup$ @inf3rno I don't know of any enzymes that are stable in those conditions for that long. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Jan 31 at 18:44
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    $\begingroup$ @inf3rno Most enzymes will have significantly degraded in days catalyzing a reaction at 10-30°C $\endgroup$ – CKM Jan 31 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, thanks! Actually I was thinking about using enzymes in fuel cells. Something similar to this: pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jp102616m $\endgroup$ – inf3rno Jan 31 at 18:53
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The product manufacturer can define a suitable shelf life at a stated storage condition because they've performed stability studies that confirm the product in question remains suitably potent in that timeframe. Often times an expiration date ends abruptly at 1-3 years because the manufacturer chooses not to test out any longer. So that's to say, if you receive a protein with a shelf-life of 3 years, if stored properly the protein may be suitable long after.

It's a fairly different question, however, if you took and reconstituted the reagent, because chances are that stability wasn't tested in that form. In order to make a claim about the stability of a processed/reconstituted protein you need either a statement from the manufacturer, data from someone who has tested stability on it themselves, or you need to test stability for yourself. The fairly short answer is you can't know, and the answer depends on a lot of variables such as the structure, concentration, diluent and storage temperature. All such variables can cause structural changes to the enzyme, i.e. protein degradation, that will result in a different activity for that product.

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  • $\begingroup$ Can it be even years with the right enzyme in the right conditions? Actually nowadays enzymes can be even designed so my guess would be that this can be maxed out for any enzyme. $\endgroup$ – inf3rno Jan 31 at 18:35
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    $\begingroup$ @inf3rno Certainly. People have stored antibodies for IHC for years at -80°C. The problem is you can't make that claim with any professional certainty without data to back it up. It's problematic in GMP-compliant processing and FDA-regulated development because you can't use expired reagents for clinical administration, for example, and the only way you can claim to use something past expiration is to test it yourself. $\endgroup$ – CKM Jan 31 at 18:42

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