10 Big Difference between Cofactor and Coenzyme with Table

What is the difference between cofactor and coenzyme?

The body of human beings consists of millions of cells, tissues, organs, groups, and enzymes that play a vital role. Understanding these organs, cells, enzymes, and systems can be quite difficult.

The core difference between cofactor and coenzyme is that cofactor is a non-protein chemical compound that binds with enzymes while coenzyme is an organic compound that carries chemical groups between enzymes.

Difference between Cofactor and Coenzyme

What Is Cofactor?

A cofactor is a non-protein compound that binds with enzymes and other protein molecules. They are further divided into coenzymes and prosthetic groups.

Cofactors are also known as helper molecules. They are known for activating the inactive form of enzymes such as holoenzyme. They can either be metals or coenzymes.

Table of Enzymes and their Metal Ions Requirements

Enzymes or Proteins Metal Ions
Carbonic anhydrase Zn2+
Alcohol dehydrogenase Zn2+
Cytochromes, hemoglobin Fe2+ or Fe3+
Ferredoxin Fe2+ or Fe3+
Cytochrome oxidase Cu+ or Cu2+
Pyruvate phosphokinase K+ and Mg2+

What Is Coenzyme?

The coenzyme is an organic molecule that is non-protein in nature and it carries chemical groups between enzymes.

Coenzymes are normally modified during the reaction and another coenzyme is required to restore them into their original state.

Coenzymes are also known as co-substrate and they are regenerate into the body. The concentration of coenzyme needs to be maintained.

Types of Coenzymes and their Functions

Coenzymes Functions
Carbamide coenzymes (vit. B12) Alkyl groups
NAD (nicotine adenine dinucleotide) Electron (hydrogen atom)
Biotin Carbon dioxide
NADP (nicotine adenine dinucleotide phosphate) Electron (hydrogen atom)
Pyridoxine (pyridoxal phosphate) (vit B6) Amino groups
FAD (flavine adenine dinucleotide) (Vit.B2) Electron (hydrogen atom)
Thiamine (thiamine pyrophosphate) (vit. B1) Aldehydes
CoA (coenzyme A) Acyl groups
CoQ (coenzyme Q) Electrons (hydrogen atom)

Comparison Chart: Cofactor Vs Coenzyme

Basic Terms Cofactor Coenzyme
Meaning Refer to a small non-protein molecule required for enzyme activity Refer to organic non-protein compound that binds with enzymes to speed up the reaction
Nature Inorganic compounds Organic compounds
Types Coenzymes and prosthetic groups Cofactor
Molecule/Compound Compounds Molecules
Binding Covalently bound to enzymes Loosely bound to enzymes
Function Facilitate the function of enzymes Support biological transformation
Role Increase the rate of the reaction catalyzed by enzymes Serve as the carrier of enzymes
Removal Can be removed by denaturing enzymes Can easily be removed since they are loosely bound
Examples They include metal ions such as metal ions like zinc (Zn2+), K+ and Mg2+ Vitamins, biotin, coenzyme A

Core Differences between Cofactor and Coenzyme

  1. Cofactor bind to an enzyme while coenzyme is a carrier of enzymes
  2. The alternative name of the cofactor is helper molecules while that of the coenzyme is cosubstrates
  3. Cofactor bind covalently with enzymes while coenzymes are loosely bound with enzymes
  4. Coenzyme can easily be removed while cofactor can be removed through denaturing enzymes
  5. A cofactor is a chemical compound while coenzyme is a chemical molecule
  6. A cofactor is an inorganic substance while coenzyme is an organic substance
  7. Coenzyme act as carriers while cofactor increase the rate of reaction
  8. The coenzyme is meant for biological transformation while cofactor is meant to aid enzyme activity
  9. Type of cofactors are coenzymes and prosthetic groups while coenzymes are cofactors
  10. Examples of cofactors are Zn2+, K+, and Mg2+ while coenzymes are vitamins, biotin, and coenzyme A

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Comparison Video


Coenzymes are organic molecules that bind loosely with enzymes while cofactors are organic compounds that bind covalently with enzymes. The binding nature help determines how they can be removed.


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