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4: How Cells Obtain Energy
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- 4.1: Energy and Metabolism
- Cells perform the functions of life through various chemical reactions. A cell’s metabolism refers to the combination of chemical reactions that take place within it. Catabolic reactions break down complex chemicals into simpler ones and are associated with energy release. Anabolic processes build complex molecules out of simpler ones and require energy. In studying energy, the term system refers to the matter and environment involved in energy transfers.
- 4.2: Glycolysis
- ATP functions as the energy currency for cells. It allows cells to store energy briefly and transport it within itself to support endergonic chemical reactions. The structure of ATP is that of an RNA nucleotide with three phosphate groups attached. As ATP is used for energy, a phosphate group is detached, and ADP is produced. Energy derived from glucose catabolism is used to recharge ADP into ATP. Glycolysis is the first pathway used in the breakdown of glucose to extract energy.
- 4.3: Citric Acid Cycle and Oxidative Phosphorylation
- The citric acid cycle is a series of chemical reactions that removes high-energy electrons and uses them in the electron transport chain to generate ATP. One molecule of ATP (or an equivalent) is produced per each turn of the cycle. The electron transport chain is the portion of aerobic respiration that uses free oxygen as the final electron acceptor for electrons removed from the intermediate compounds in glucose catabolism.
- 4.4: Fermentation
- If NADH cannot be metabolized through aerobic respiration, another electron acceptor is used. Most organisms will use some form of fermentation to accomplish the regeneration of NAD+, ensuring the continuation of glycolysis. The regeneration of NAD+ in fermentation is not accompanied by ATP production; therefore, the potential for NADH to produce ATP using an electron transport chain is not utilized.
- 4.5: Connections to Other Metabolic Pathways
- Metabolic pathways should be thought of as porous—that is, substances enter from other pathways, and other substances leave for other pathways. These pathways are not closed systems. Many of the products in a particular pathway are reactants in other pathways.
- 4.E: How Cells Obtain Energy (Exercises)