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10.5: Connections of Carbohydrate, Protein, and Lipid Metabolic Pathways

  • Page ID
    279996
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    Skills to Develop

    • Discuss the ways in which carbohydrate metabolic pathways, glycolysis, and the citric acid cycle interrelate with protein and lipid metabolic pathways
    • Explain why metabolic pathways are not considered closed systems

    You have learned about the catabolism of glucose, which provides energy to living cells. But living things consume more than glucose for food. How does a turkey sandwich end up as ATP in your cells? This happens because all of the catabolic pathways for carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids eventually connect into glycolysis and the citric acid cycle pathways. Metabolic pathways should be thought of as porous—that is, substances enter from other pathways, and intermediates leave for other pathways. These pathways are not closed systems. Many of the substrates, intermediates, and products in a particular pathway are reactants in other pathways.

    Connections of Other Sugars to Glucose Metabolism

    Glycogen, a polymer of glucose, is an energy storage molecule in animals. When there is adequate ATP present, excess glucose is shunted into glycogen for storage. Glycogen is made and stored in both liver and muscle. The glycogen will be hydrolyzed into glucose monomers (G-1-P) if blood sugar levels drop. The presence of glycogen as a source of glucose allows ATP to be produced for a longer period of time during exercise. Glycogen is broken down into G-1-P and converted into G-6-P in both muscle and liver cells, and this product enters the glycolytic pathway.

    Sucrose is a disaccharide with a molecule of glucose and a molecule of fructose bonded together with a glycosidic linkage. Fructose is one of the three dietary monosaccharides, along with glucose and galactose (which is part of the milk sugar, the disaccharide lactose), which are absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion. The catabolism of both fructose and galactose produces the same number of ATP molecules as glucose.

    Connections of Proteins to Glucose Metabolism

    Proteins are hydrolyzed by a variety of enzymes in cells. Most of the time, the amino acids are recycled into the synthesis of new proteins. If there are excess amino acids, however, or if the body is in a state of starvation, some amino acids will be shunted into the pathways of glucose catabolism (Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\)). Each amino acid must have its amino group removed prior to entry into these pathways. The amino group is converted into ammonia. In mammals, the liver synthesizes urea from two ammonia molecules and a carbon dioxide molecule. Thus, urea is the principal waste product in mammals produced from the nitrogen originating in amino acids, and it leaves the body in urine.

    This illustration shows that the amino acids alanine, glycine, threonine, cysteine, and serine can be converted into pyruvate. Leucine, lysine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, tryptophan, and isoleucine can be converted into acetyl CoA. Arginine, proline, histidine, glutamine, and glutamate can be converted into α-ketoglutarate. Isoleucine, valine, methionine, and threonine can be converted into succinyl CoA. Tyrosine and phenylalanine can be converted into fumarate, and aspartate and asparagine can be converted into oxaloacetate.
    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): The carbon skeletons of certain amino acids (indicated in boxes) derived from proteins can feed into the citric acid cycle. (credit: modification of work by Mikael Häggström)

    Connections of Lipid and Glucose Metabolisms

    The lipids that are connected to the glucose pathways are triglycerides. Triglycerides are a form of long-term energy storage in animals. Triglycerides are made of glycerol and three fatty acids. Animals can make most of the fatty acids they need. Triglycerides can be both made and broken down through parts of the glucose catabolism pathways. Glycerol can be phosphorylated to glycerol-3-phosphate, which continues through glycolysis. Fatty acids are catabolized in a process called beta-oxidation that takes place in the matrix of the mitochondria and converts their fatty acid chains into two carbon units of acetyl groups. The acetyl groups are picked up by CoA to form acetyl CoA that proceeds into the citric acid cycle.

    This illustration shows that glycogen, fats, and proteins can be catabolized via aerobic respiration. Glycogen is broken down into glucose, which feeds into glycolysis at the start. Fats are broken down into glycerol, which is processed by glycolysis, and fatty acids are converted into acetyl CoA. Proteins are broken down into amino acids, which are processed at various stages of aerobic respiration, including glycolysis, acetyl CoA formation, and the citric acid cycle.
    Figure \(\PageIndex{2}\): Glycogen from the liver and muscles, hydrolyzed into glucose-1-phosphate, together with fats and proteins, can feed into the catabolic pathways for carbohydrates.
     

    Summary

    The breakdown and synthesis of carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids connect with the pathways of glucose catabolism. The simple sugars are catabolized during glycolysis. The fatty acids from fats connect with glucose catabolism through acetyl CoA. The amino acids from proteins connect with glucose catabolism through pyruvate, acetyl CoA, and components of the citric acid cycle.

    Contributors and Attributions


    10.5: Connections of Carbohydrate, Protein, and Lipid Metabolic Pathways is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by OpenStax.