Citric Acid Cycle
The citric acid cycle is a series of reactions that produces two carbon dioxide molecules, one GTP/ATP, and reduced forms of NADH and FADH2.
List the steps of the Krebs (or citric acid) cycle
- The four-carbon molecule, oxaloacetate, that began the cycle is regenerated after the eight steps of the citric acid cycle.
- The eight steps of the citric acid cycle are a series of redox, dehydration, hydration, and decarboxylation reactions.
- Each turn of the cycle forms one GTP or ATP as well as three NADH molecules and one FADH2 molecule, which will be used in further steps of cellular respiration to produce ATP for the cell.
- citric acid cycle: a series of chemical reactions used by all aerobic organisms to generate energy through the oxidization of acetate derived from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into carbon dioxide
- Krebs cycle: a series of enzymatic reactions that occurs in all aerobic organisms; it involves the oxidative metabolism of acetyl units and serves as the main source of cellular energy
- mitochondria: in cell biology, a mitochondrion (plural mitochondria) is a membrane-enclosed organelle, often described as “cellular power plants” because they generate most of the ATP
Citric Acid Cycle (Krebs Cycle)
Like the conversion of pyruvate to acetyl CoA, the citric acid cycle takes place in the matrix of the mitochondria. Almost all of the enzymes of the citric acid cycle are soluble, with the single exception of the enzyme succinate dehydrogenase, which is embedded in the inner membrane of the mitochondrion. Unlike glycolysis, the citric acid cycle is a closed loop: the last part of the pathway regenerates the compound used in the first step. The eight steps of the cycle are a series of redox, dehydration, hydration, and decarboxylation reactions that produce two carbon dioxide molecules, one GTP/ATP, and reduced forms of NADH and FADH2. This is considered an aerobic pathway because the NADH and FADH2 produced must transfer their electrons to the next pathway in the system, which will use oxygen. If this transfer does not occur, the oxidation steps of the citric acid cycle also do not occur. Note that the citric acid cycle produces very little ATP directly and does not directly consume oxygen.
Steps in the Citric Acid Cycle
Step 1. The first step is a condensation step, combining the two-carbon acetyl group (from acetyl CoA) with a four-carbon oxaloacetate molecule to form a six-carbon molecule of citrate. CoA is bound to a sulfhydryl group (-SH) and diffuses away to eventually combine with another acetyl group. This step is irreversible because it is highly exergonic. The rate of this reaction is controlled by negative feedback and the amount of ATP available. If ATP levels increase, the rate of this reaction decreases. If ATP is in short supply, the rate increases.
Step 2. Citrate loses one water molecule and gains another as citrate is converted into its isomer, isocitrate.
Steps 3 and 4. In step three, isocitrate is oxidized, producing a five-carbon molecule, α-ketoglutarate, together with a molecule of CO2 and two electrons, which reduce NAD+ to NADH. This step is also regulated by negative feedback from ATP and NADH and by a positive effect of ADP. Steps three and four are both oxidation and decarboxylation steps, which release electrons that reduce NAD+ to NADH and release carboxyl groups that form CO2 molecules. α-Ketoglutarate is the product of step three, and a succinyl group is the product of step four. CoA binds the succinyl group to form succinyl CoA. The enzyme that catalyzes step four is regulated by feedback inhibition of ATP, succinyl CoA, and NADH.
Step 5. A phosphate group is substituted for coenzyme A, and a high- energy bond is formed. This energy is used in substrate-level phosphorylation (during the conversion of the succinyl group to succinate) to form either guanine triphosphate (GTP) or ATP. There are two forms of the enzyme, called isoenzymes, for this step, depending upon the type of animal tissue in which they are found. One form is found in tissues that use large amounts of ATP, such as heart and skeletal muscle. This form produces ATP. The second form of the enzyme is found in tissues that have a high number of anabolic pathways, such as liver. This form produces GTP. GTP is energetically equivalent to ATP; however, its use is more restricted. In particular, protein synthesis primarily uses GTP.
Step 6. Step six is a dehydration process that converts succinate into fumarate. Two hydrogen atoms are transferred to FAD, producing FADH2. The energy contained in the electrons of these atoms is insufficient to reduce NAD+ but adequate to reduce FAD. Unlike NADH, this carrier remains attached to the enzyme and transfers the electrons to the electron transport chain directly. This process is made possible by the localization of the enzyme catalyzing this step inside the inner membrane of the mitochondrion.
Step 7. Water is added to fumarate during step seven, and malate is produced. The last step in the citric acid cycle regenerates oxaloacetate by oxidizing malate. Another molecule of NADH is produced.
Products of the Citric Acid Cycle
Two carbon atoms come into the citric acid cycle from each acetyl group, representing four out of the six carbons of one glucose molecule. Two carbon dioxide molecules are released on each turn of the cycle; however, these do not necessarily contain the most recently-added carbon atoms. The two acetyl carbon atoms will eventually be released on later turns of the cycle; thus, all six carbon atoms from the original glucose molecule are eventually incorporated into carbon dioxide. Each turn of the cycle forms three NADH molecules and one FADH2 molecule. These carriers will connect with the last portion of aerobic respiration to produce ATP molecules. One GTP or ATP is also made in each cycle. Several of the intermediate compounds in the citric acid cycle can be used in synthesizing non-essential amino acids; therefore, the cycle is amphibolic (both catabolic and anabolic).
Breakdown of Pyruvate
After glycolysis, pyruvate is converted into acetyl CoA in order to enter the citric acid cycle.
Explain why cells break down pyruvate
- In the conversion of pyruvate to acetyl CoA, each pyruvate molecule loses one carbon atom with the release of carbon dioxide.
- During the breakdown of pyruvate, electrons are transferred to NAD+ to produce NADH, which will be used by the cell to produce ATP.
- In the final step of the breakdown of pyruvate, an acetyl group is transferred to Coenzyme A to produce acetyl CoA.
- acetyl CoA: a molecule that conveys the carbon atoms from glycolysis (pyruvate) to the citric acid cycle to be oxidized for energy production
Breakdown of Pyruvate
In order for pyruvate, the product of glycolysis, to enter the next pathway, it must undergo several changes to become acetyl Coenzyme A (acetyl CoA). Acetyl CoA is a molecule that is further converted to oxaloacetate, which enters the citric acid cycle (Krebs cycle). The conversion of pyruvate to acetyl CoA is a three-step process.
Step 1. A carboxyl group is removed from pyruvate, releasing a molecule of carbon dioxide into the surrounding medium. (Note: carbon dioxide is one carbon attached to two oxygen atoms and is one of the major end products of cellular respiration. ) The result of this step is a two-carbon hydroxyethyl group bound to the enzyme pyruvate dehydrogenase; the lost carbon dioxide is the first of the six carbons from the original glucose molecule to be removed. This step proceeds twice for every molecule of glucose metabolized (remember: there are two pyruvate molecules produced at the end of glycolysis); thus, two of the six carbons will have been removed at the end of both of these steps.
Step 2. The hydroxyethyl group is oxidized to an acetyl group, and the electrons are picked up by NAD+, forming NADH (the reduced form of NAD+). The high- energy electrons from NADH will be used later by the cell to generate ATP for energy.
Step 3. The enzyme-bound acetyl group is transferred to CoA, producing a molecule of acetyl CoA. This molecule of acetyl CoA is then further converted to be used in the next pathway of metabolism, the citric acid cycle.
Acetyl CoA and the Citric Acid Cycle
The citric acid cycle is a key component of the metabolic pathway by which all aerobic organisms generate energy.
Recall the citric acid cycle
- The Krebs cycle is a series of chemical reactions used by all aerobic organisms to generate energy through the oxidization of acetate—derived from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins —into carbon dioxide.
- Theoretically there are several alternatives to the TCA cycle, but the TCA cycle appears to be the most efficient.
- The citric acid cycle consumes acetate (in the form of acetyl-CoA) and water, reduces NAD+ to NADH, and produces carbon dioxide.
- acetyl CoA: Acetyl coenzyme A or acetyl-CoA is an important molecule in metabolism, used in many biochemical reactions. Its main function is to convey the carbon atoms within the acetyl group to the citric acid cycle (Krebs cycle) to be oxidized for energy production.
- citric acid cycle: An alternative name for the Krebs cycle.
- glycolysis: The cellular degradation of the simple sugar glucose to yield pyruvic acid and ATP as an energy source.
The citric acid cycle, shown in —also known as the tricarboxylic acid cycle (TCA cycle) or the Krebs cycle—is a series of chemical reactions used by all aerobic organisms to generate energy through the oxidation of acetate—derived from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins—into carbon dioxide. The cycle provides precursors including certain amino acids as well as the reducing agent NADH that is used in numerous biochemical reactions. Its central importance to many biochemical pathways suggests that it was one of the earliest established components of cellular metabolism; it may have originated abiogenically.
The name of this metabolic pathway is derived from citric acid, a type of tricarboxylic acid that is first consumed and then regenerated by this sequence of reactions to complete the cycle. The cycle consumes acetate (in the form of acetyl-CoA) and water, reduces NAD+ to NADH, and produces carbon dioxide. The NADH generated by the TCA cycle is fed into the oxidative phosphorylation pathway. The net result of these two closely linked pathways is the oxidation of nutrients to produce usable energy in the form of ATP.
Components of the TCA cycle were derived from anaerobic bacteria, and the TCA cycle itself may have evolved more than once. Theoretically there are several alternatives to the TCA cycle, however the TCA cycle appears to be the most efficient. If several alternatives independently evolved, they all rapidly converged to the TCA cycle.
The citric acid cycle is a key component of the metabolic pathway by which all aerobic organisms generate energy. Through the catabolism of sugars, fats, and proteins, a two carbon organic product acetate in the form of acetyl-CoA is produced. Acetyl-CoA along with two equivalents of water (H2O) are consumed by the citric acid cycle, producing two equivalents of carbon dioxide (CO2) and one equivalent of HS-CoA. In addition, one complete turn of the cycle converts three equivalents of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) into three equivalents of reduced NAD+ (NADH), one equivalent of ubiquinone (Q) into one equivalent of reduced ubiquinone (QH2), and one equivalent each of guanosine diphosphate (GDP) and inorganic phosphate (Pi) into one equivalent of guanosine triphosphate (GTP). The NADH and QH2 that is generated by the citric acid cycle is used by the oxidative phosphorylation pathway to generate energy-rich adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
One of the primary sources of acetyl-CoA is sugars that are broken down by glycolysis to produce pyruvate that, in turn, is decarboxylated by the enzyme pyruvate dehydrogenase. This generates acetyl-CoA according to the following reaction scheme:
CH3C(=O)C(=O)O– (pyruvate) + HSCoA + NAD+ → CH3C(=O)SCoA (acetyl-CoA) + NADH + H+ + CO2
The product of this reaction, acetyl-CoA, is the starting point for the citric acid cycle.