Noncompetitive inhibition occurs when an inhibitor binds to the enzyme at a location other than the active site. In some cases of noncompetitive inhibition, the inhibitor is thought to bind to the enzyme in such a way as to physically block the normal active site. In other instances, the binding of the inhibitor is believed to change the shape of the enzyme molecule, thereby deforming its active site and preventing it from reacting with its substrate. This latter type of noncompetitive inhibition is called allosteric inhibition ; the place where the inhibitor binds to the enzyme is called the allosteric site. Frequently, an end-product of a metabolic pathway serves as an allosteric inhibitor on an earlier enzyme of the pathway. This inhibition of an enzyme by a product of its pathway is a form of negative feedback.
One digestive enzyme that should be in the body, but is not always present, is lactase. As we noted earlier, lactase works on lactose, the principal carbohydrate in milk, to implement its digestion. If a person lacks this enzyme, consuming dairy products may cause diarrhea, bloating, and cramping. Such a person is said to be "lactose intolerant," and if he or she is to consume dairy products at all, they must be in forms that contain lactase. For this reason, Lactaid milk is sold in the specialty dairy section of major supermarkets, while many health-food stores sell lactaid tablets.