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Question: Describe one of the following processes: glycolysis, citric acid cycle, oxidative phosphorylation, the light-dependent reactions of photosynthesis, or the Calvin Cycle.
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Glycolysis is a metabolic pathway wherein a molecule of glucose is broken down to two molecules of pyruvic acid. The word ‘glycolysis' has a Greek origin- ‘glyco'- meaning sugar and ‘lysis' meaning ‘to split'. Thus it is splitting of sugar.
The pathway is universal and seen in all organisms, including microbes, plants and animals. The pathway does not require oxygen and proceeds in two stages. The first stage energy is spent phase where ATP is utilized whereas the second stage involves ATP generation.
The first step of glycolysis involves the enzyme hexokinase or glucokinase which phosphorylates glucose at the 6th position and forms glucose 6 phosphate. It is then converted to fructose 6 phosphate which is again phosphorylated in the next step to form Fructose 1,6 bis phosphate. Till this point, energy is invested in the form of ATP. In the next step the Fructose 1,6 bis phosphate is acted upon by aldolase and the six carbon compound is split into two 3-carbon compounds namely, Glyceraldehyde 3 phosphate and dihydroxy acetone phosphate both of which are intervconvertible by the enzyme triose phosphate isomerase. Glyceraldehyde 3 phosphate gets converted to 1,3 bis phospho glycerate by the enzyme glyceraldehyde 3 phosphate dehydrogenase. This reaction involves NAD conversion to NADH +H+. The NADH contributes electrons in electron transport chain (ETC) and adds to ATP production. 1,3, bis phospho glycerate is converted to 3 phospho glycerate by the enzyme phospho glycerate kinae. This reaction is accompanied by formation of ATP. It is called substrate level phosphorylation. 2 phospho glycerate is converted sequentially to phospho enol pyruvate and pyruvate by the enzymes enolase and pyruvate kinase respectively. The pyruvate kinase reaction is again accompanied by ATP formation by substrate level phosphorylation.
Since dihydroxy acetone phosphate also gets converted to glyceraldehyde 3 phosphate, the reactions from formation of 1,3 bis phosphoglycerate are counted twice. Thus, two NADH at the glyceraldehyde 3 phosphate dehydrogenase reaction and two ATP each at phosphoglycerate kinate reaction and pyruvate kinase are counted in the ATP yield. Each NADH is believed to contribute to 3 ATP in the ETC. Thus 6 ATP from NADH, 2 ATP from phosphoglycertae kinase recation and 2 ATP from pyruvate kinase reaction make a total of 10 ATP. At the initial energy investment phase two ATP have been consumed. Thus the net yield in glycolysis is 8 ATP.
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