What is metabolism?
All living things must have an unceasing supply of energy and matter. The transformation of this energy and matter within the body is called metabolism. Metabolism includes two different types: catabolism and anabolism. Catabolism is destructive metabolism. Typically, in catabolism, larger organic molecules are broken down into smaller constituents. This usually occurs with the release of energy. Anabolism is constructive metabolism. Typically, in anabolism, small precursor molecules are assembled into larger organic molecules. This always requires the input of energy.
Anabolism and catabolism Pathways
Anabolism is the synthesis of complex molecules from precursors. This includes synthesis of proteins, carbohydrates, nucleic acids and lipids, usually from their building block monomers. Catabolism is the breakdown of complex molecules into smaller precursors from which they are synthesized. It is a reversed process of anabolism. When cells have excess resources such as food and extra energy, anabolism occurs to store unused nutrients for later use. When cells are deficient for food or energy, catabolism occurs to break down the stored nutrients for the body to use.
Energetics of biological Reactions
Biological energy is the capacity to run biochemical reactions to enable the cells to do their work. Free energy (G) relates temperature, enthalpy and entropy. Free energy is used to determine if the reaction is spontaneous at a specific temperature.
Determining spontaneity of a process
Free energy describes whether a reaction will occur spontaneously. The First Law of Thermodynamics states that energy is conserved: energy can neither be created nor destroyed. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that the work produced from a given energy can never be 100% efficient. In metabolism, reactions which are spontaneous are favorable because these run automatically and release free energy. Every reaction has an activation energy, which describes an energy barrier that is overcome every time the reaction occurs. Most of the reactions in the cell require enzymes. Enzymes are proteins to speed up reactions by grabbing onto reactants to bring them closer together. Reactants which are closer together can reach activation energy more easily. Thus, enzymes lower activation energy and speed up the reaction.
ATP is the energy currency of all cells. Most of the reactions in the cell require ATP. ATP is energy rich. When the energy is used by a reaction, ATP breaks up into ADP and Pi. In order to use the energy again, ADP and Pi must be changed back into ATP. This requires energy. Non-spontaneous reactions requires energy, and this is often done by coupling this reaction with an ATP breaking down reaction, the combined free energy will be negative and therefore enables the overall reaction.
Cellular respiration is a series of metabolic processes which all living cells use to produce energy in the form of ATP. In cellular respiration, the cell breaks down glucose to produce large amounts of energy in the form of ATP. Cellular respiration can take two paths: aerobic respiration or anaerobic respiration. Aerobic respiration occurs when oxygen is available, whereas anaerobic respiration occurs when oxygen is not available. The two paths of cellular respiration share the glycolysis step. Aerobic respiration has three steps: glycolysis, Krebs cycle, and oxidative phosphorylation. During glycolysis, glucose is broken down into pyruvate and produces 2 ATP. The Krebs cycle is also known as TCA cycle which contains a series of Redox reactions to convert pyruvate into CO2 and produce NADH and FADH2. During oxidative phosphorylation, NADH and FADH2 are used as substrate to generate a pH gradient on mitochondria membrane which is used to generate ATP via ATP synthase. Anaerobic respiration contains two steps: glycolysis and fermentation. Fermentation regenerates the reactants needed for glycolysis to run again. Fermentation converts pyruvate into ethanol or lactic acid, and in the process regenerates intermediates for glycolysis.