The Process of Glycolysis Essay

The Process of Glycolysis Essay

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The Process of Glycolysis

Nine reactions, each catalyzed by a specific enzyme, makeup the process we call glycolysis. ALL organisms have glycolysis occurring in their cytoplasm.
At steps 1 and 3 ATP is converted into ADP, inputting energy into the reaction as well as attaching a phosphate to the glucose. At steps 6 and 9 ADP is converted into the higher energy ATP. At step 5 NAD+ is converted into NADH + H+.
The process works on glucose, a 6-C, until step 4 splits the 6-C into two 3-C compounds. Glyceraldehyde phosphate (GAP, also known as phosphoglyceraldehyde, PGAL) is the more readily used of the two. Dihydroxyacetone phosphate can be converted into GAP by the enzyme Isomerase. The end of the glycolysis process yields two pyruvic acid (3-C) molecules, and a net gain of 2 ATP and two NADH per glucose.

Anaerobic Pathways

Under anaerobic conditions, the absence of oxygen, pyruvic acid can be routed by the organism into one of three pathways: lactic acid fermentation, alcohol fermentation, or cellular (anaerobic) respiration. Humans cannot ferment alcohol in their own bodies, we lack the genetic information to do so. These biochemical pathways, with their myriad reactions catalyzed by reaction-specific enzymes all under genetic control, are extremely complex. We will only skim the surface at this time and in this course.
Alcohol fermentation is the formation of alcohol from sugar. Yeast, when under anaerobic conditions, convert glucose to pyruvic acid via the glycolysis pathways, then go one step farther, converting pyruvic acid into ethanol, a C-2 compound.

Fermentation of ethanol. Image from W.H. Freeman and Sinauer Associates, used by permission.
Many organisms will also ferment pyruvic acid into, oth...


... middle of paper ...


...olecules that pass the "hot potatoes" (electrons) along the ETS chain. Energy released by the "downhill" passage of electrons is captured as ATP by ADP molecules. The ADP is reduced by the gain of electrons. ATP formed in this way is made by the process of oxidative phosphorylation. The mechanism for the oxidative phosphorylation process is the gradient of H+ ions discovered across the inner mitochondrial membrane. This mechanism is known as chemiosmotic coupling. This involves both chemical and transport processes. Drops in the potential energy of electrons moving down the ETS chain occur at three points. These points turn out to be where ADP + P are converted into ATP. Potential energy is captured by ADP and stored in the pyrophosphate bond. NADH enters the ETS chain at the beginning, yielding 3 ATP per NADH. FADH2 enters at Co-Q, producing only 2 ATP per FADH2.

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