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20: Energy Metabolism

Metabolism is the set of life-sustaining chemical transformations within the cells of living organisms. The three main purposes of metabolism are the conversion of food/fuel to energy to run cellular processes, the conversion of food/fuel to building blocks for proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, and some carbohydrates, and the elimination of nitrogenous wastes. These enzyme-catalyzed reactions allow organisms to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures, and respond to their environments. Metabolism is usually divided into two categories: catabolism, the breaking down of organic matter, for example, by cellular respiration, and anabolism, the building up of components of cells such as proteins and nucleic acids. Usually, breaking down releases energy and building up consumes energy.

  • 20.0: Introduction to Metabolism
    Like the combustion of the common fuels we burn in our homes and cars (wood, coal, gasoline), respiration uses oxygen from the air to break down complex organic substances to carbon dioxide and water. But the energy released in the burning of wood is manifested entirely in the form of heat, and excess heat energy is not only useless but also injurious to the living cell. Living organisms instead conserve much of the energy respiration releases by channeling it into a series of stepwise reactions
  • 20.1: ATP: the Universal Energy Currency
    The hydrolysis of ATP releases energy that can be used for cellular processes that require energy.
  • 20.2: Stage I of Catabolism
    During digestion, carbohydrates are broken down into monosaccharides, proteins are broken down into amino acids, and triglycerides are broken down into glycerol and fatty acids. Most of the digestion reactions occur in the small intestine.
  • 20.3: Overview of Stage II of Catabolism
    Acetyl-CoA is formed from the breakdown of carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins. It is used in many biochemical pathways.
  • 20.4: Stage III of Catabolism
    The acetyl group of acetyl-CoA enters the citric acid cycle. For each acetyl-CoA that enters the citric acid cycle, 2 molecules of carbon dioxide, 3 molecules of NADH, 1 molecule of ATP, and 1 molecule of FADH2 are produced. The reduced coenzymes  produced by the citric acid cycle are reoxidized by the reactions of the electron transport chain. This series of reactions also produces a pH gradient across the inner mitochondrial membrane that drives the synthesis of ATP from ADP.
  • 20.5: Stage II of Carbohydrate Catabolism
    The monosaccharide glucose is broken down through a series of enzyme-catalyzed reactions known as glycolysis. For each molecule of glucose that is broken down, two molecules of pyruvate, two molecules of ATP, and two molecules of NADH are produced. In the absence of oxygen, pyruvate is converted to lactate, and NADH is reoxidized to NAD+. In the presence of oxygen, pyruvate is converted to acetyl-CoA and then enters the citric acid cycle. More ATP can be formed from the breakdown of glucose.
  • 20.6: Stage II of Lipid Catabolism
    Fatty acids, obtained from the breakdown of triglycerides and other lipids, are oxidized through a series of reactions known as β-oxidation. In each round of β-oxidation, 1 molecule of acetyl-CoA, 1 molecule of NADH, and 1 molecule of FADH2 are produced. The acetyl-CoA, NADH, and FADH2 are used in the citric acid cycle, the electron transport chain, and oxidative phosphorylation to produce ATP.
  • 20.7: Stage II of Protein Catabolism
    Generally the first step in the breakdown of amino acids is the removal of the amino group, usually through a reaction known as transamination. The carbon skeletons of the amino acids undergo further reactions to form compounds that can either be used for the synthesis of glucose or the synthesis of ketone bodies.
  • 20.E: Energy Metabolism (Exercises)
    Problems and select solutions for the chapter.
  • 20.S: Energy Metabolism (Summary)
    To ensure that you understand the material in this chapter, you should review the meanings of the bold terms in the following summary and ask yourself how they relate to the topics in the chapter.