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Cellular RespirationCellular Respiration and Fermentation

Here s a song about cellular respiration.


Glycolysis:
There are two important ways a cell can harvest energy from food:
fermentation and cellular respiration. Both start with the same first
step: the process of glycolysis which is the breakdown or splitting of
glucose (6 carbons) into two 3-carbon molecules called pyruvic acid. The
energy from other sugars, such as fructose, is also harvested using this
process. Glycolysis is probably the oldest known way of producing ATP.
There is evidence that the process of glycolysis predates the existence of
O2 in the Earth s atmosphere and organelles in cells:
Glycolysis does not need oxygen as part of any of its chemical
reactions. It serves as a first step in a variety of both aerobic and
anaerobic energy-harvesting reactions.
Glycolysis happens in the cytoplasm of cells, not in some specialized
organelle.
Glycolysis is the one metabolic pathway found in all living organisms.

glucose
2 pyruvic acid molecules
+ 4 H+ + energy stored in 2 ATP molecules

Fermentation:
In fermentation these pyruvic acid molecules are turned into some waste
product, and a little bit of energy (only two ATP molecules per molecule
of glucose actually four are produced in glycolysis, but two are used
up) is produced. Out of many possible types of fermentation processes, two
of the most common types are lactic acid fermentation and alcohol
fermentation.
Pyruvic Acid + 2 H+
or

Lactic Acid Ethanol


and
Carbon Dioxide
Lactic acid fermentation is done by some fungi, some bacteria like the
Lactobacillus acidophilus. in yogurt, and sometimes by our muscles. Normally our
muscles do cellular respiration like the rest of our bodies, using O2 supplied
by our lungs and blood. However, under greater exertion when the oxygen supplied
by the lungs and blood system can t get there fast enough to keep up with the
muscles needs, our muscles can switch over and do lactic acid fermentation. In
the process of lactic acid fermentation, the 3-carbon pyruvic acid molecules are
turned into lactic acid. It is the presence of lactic acid in yogurt that gives
it its sour taste, and it is the presence of lactic acid in our muscles the
morning after that makes them so sore. Once our muscles form lactic acid, they
can t do anything else with it, so until it is gradually washed away by the
blood stream and carried to the liver (which is able to get rid of it), our
over-exerted muscles feel stiff and sore even if they haven t been physically
injured.
Alcohol fermentation is done by yeast and some kinds of bacteria. The waste
products of this process are ethanol and carbon dioxide (CO2). Humans have long
taken advantage of this process in making bread, beer, and wine. In bread
making, it is the CO2 which forms and is trapped between the gluten (a long
protein in wheat) molecules that causes the bread to rise, and the ethanol
(often abbreviated as EtOH do you remember how to draw it?) evaporating that
gives it its wonderful smell while baking. The effects of the ethanol in beer
and wine are something with which many college students are familiar (sometimes
too familiar?), and it is the CO2 produced by the process of fermentation that
makes these beverages effervescent.
Dr. Fankhauser has a number of fermentation-related recipes online,
complete with photographs:
His main cheese page
A recipe for cheese using one gallon of milk
A recipe for cheese using five gallons of milk
Homemade yogurt
Homemade buttermilk
Homemade root beer
Homemade ginger ale
A recipe for whole wheat bread
General information on milk-fermenting bacteria

Cellular Respiration:
An analogy can be drawn between the process of cellular respiration in our

cells and a car. The mitochondria are the engines of our cells where sugar
is burned for fuel and the exhaust is CO2 and H2O. Note that in a car that
burned fuel perfectly, the only exhaust should theoretically be CO2 and
H2O also.
There are three steps in the process of cellular respiration: glycolysis,
the Krebs cycle, and the electron transport chain.
In contrast to fermentation, in the process of cellular respiration, the
pyruvic acid molecules are broken down completely to CO2 and more energy
released. Note that three molecules of O2 must react with each molecule of
pyruvic acid to form the three carbon dioxide molecules, and three
molecules of water are also formed to use up the hydrogens. As mentioned
above, in glycolysis, a total of four molecules of ATP are produced, but
two are used up in other steps in the process. Additional ATP is produced
during the Krebs Cycle and the Electron Transport Chain, resulting in a
grand total of 40 ATP molecules produced from the breakdown of one
molecule of glucose via cellular respiration. Since two of those are used
up during glycolysis, in prokaryotes a net total of 38 molecules of ATP
are produced by cellular respiration. Most prokaryotes have very simple
cells which lack several types of organelles present in eukaryotes, and
therefore the Krebs Cycle and the Electron Transport Chain occur in the
cytoplasm and/or using chemicals embedded in the cell membrane. In
contrast, eukaryotes have more complex cells with more specialized
organelles to perform given functions. In eukaryotes, the Krebs Cycle and
Electron Transport Chain occur within the mitochondria, and thus the
pyruvic acid resulting from glycolysis must be sent into the mitochondria
for these reactions to occur. However, to move one molecule of pyruvic
acid (remember each molecule of glucose turns into two pyruvic acid
molecules) from the cytoplasm into a mitochondrion costs the cell one
molecule of ATP (therefore two ATPs for a whole glucose), thus a net total
of 36 ATP molecules per molecule of glucose is produced in eukaryotes as
compared to only two in fermentation. The overall reaction for cellular
respiration is C6H12O6 + 6O2 6CO2 + 6H2O (+ energy for the cell to use
for other things).
Pyruvic Acid + 2 H+
+ 3 O2

3 Carbon Dioxide
+ 3 H2O
+ 34 ATP
In glycolysis and the Krebs cycle, there are also a number of electrons released
as the glucose molecule is broken down. The cell must deal with these electrons
in some way, so they are stored by the cell by forming a compound called NADH by
the chemical reaction, NAD+ + H+ + 2e NADH. This NADH is used to carry the
electrons to the electron transport chain, where more energy is harvested from
them.
In eukaryotes, the pyruvic acid from glycolysis must be transferred into the
mitochondria to be sent through the Krebs cycle, also known as the citric acid
cycle, at a cost of one ATP per molecule of pyruvic acid. In this cycle,
discovered by Hans Krebs, the pyruvic acid molecules are converted to CO2, and
two more ATP molecules are produced per molecule of glucose. First, each
3-carbon pyruvic acid molecule has a CO2 broken off and the other two carbons
are transferred to a molecule called acetyl coenzyme A, while a molecule of NADH
is formed from NAD+ for each pyruvic acid (= 2 for the whole glucose). These
acetyl CoA molecules are put into the actual cycle, and after the coenzyme A
part is released, eventually each 2-carbon piece is broken apart into two
molecules of CO2. In the process, for each acetyl CoA that goes into the cycle,
three molecules of NADH, one molecule of FADH2, and one molecule of ATP are
formed (= 6 NADH, 2 FADH2, and 2 ATP per whole glucose).
The electron transport chain is a system of electron carriers embedded
into the inner membrane of a mitochondrion. As electrons are passed from
one compound to the next in the chain, their energy is harvested and
stored by forming ATP. For each molecule of NADH which puts its two
electrons in, approximately three molecules of ATP are formed, and for
each molecule of FADH2, about two molecules of ATP are formed.

Many of the compounds that make up the electron transport chain belong to
a special group of chemicals called cytochromes. The central structure of
a cytochrome is a porphyrin ring like chlorophyll but with iron in the
center (chlorophyll has magnesium). A porphyrin with iron in the center is
called a heme group, and these are also found in hemoglobin in our blood.
At the last step in the electron transport chain, the used up electrons,
along with some spare hydrogen ions are combined with O2 (we finally got
around to the O2) to form water as a waste product: 4e- + 4H+ + O2 2H2O.
Click on the heme group
to see how to draw one.
Get the Corel Presentations
Show It! plug-in
Click the picture to re-start or press [ESC] to stop. You may also
write on the picture. Unfortunately, Corel only has a Plug-In for
Win 95/NT, so this won t work with Win 3.1 or Mac.

Many of the enzymes in the cells of organisms need other helpers to function.
These non-protein enzyme helpers are called cofactors and can include substances
like iron, zinc, or copper. If a cofactor is an organic molecule, it then is
called a coenzyme. Many of the vitamins needed by our bodies are used as
coenzymes to help our enzymes to do their jobs. Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is a
coenzyme used in removing CO2 from various organic compounds. B2 (riboflavin) is
a component of FAD (or FADH2), one of the chemicals used to transport electrons
from the Krebs cycle to the electron transport chain. Vitamin B3 (niacin) is a
component of NAD+ (or NADH) which is the major transporter of electrons from
glycolysis and the Krebs cycle to the electron transport chain. Without enough
of these B vitamins, our ability to get the energy out of our food would come to
a grinding halt! B6 (pyridoxine), B12 (cobalamin), pantothenic acid, folic acid,
and biotin are all other B vitamins which serve as coenzymes at various points
in metabolizing our food. Interestingly, B12 has cobalt in it, a mineral which
we need in only very minute quantities, but whose absence can cause symptoms of
deficiency.

My mother once had a friend who had porphyria, a dominant genetic disorder in
which the person s body cannot properly make porphyrin rings. This would, thus,
affect the person s ability to make both hemoglobin to carry oxygen in the blood
and cytochromes for the electron transport chain. This woman s symptoms were
quite variable. At times, she would appear nearly normal while on other
occasions she would have to be hospitalized for temporary paralysis of part of
her body or other symptoms. There were a number of foods and drugs she had to
avoid because they would trigger or worsen her symptoms. She frequently was in a
lot of pain. Because porphyria is a dominant genetic disorder, there was a 50%
chance this woman s daughter would also have porphyria. Thus after the woman was
diagnosed with porphyria, a number of tests were also run on the girl, and she
was more carefully monitored as she grew up. My mother eventually lost contact
with them, so I never heard the end of the story.
Because there are a number of enzymes and steps involved in forming porphyrin
rings, there are a number of possible points in the process where genetic
defects could occur. The Merck Manual says there are eight steps in the process
of making porphyrin rings, with genetic abnormalities possible in seven of the
eight enzymes.

Several years ago, Dr. Fankhauser mentioned to me that he heard somewhere that
an average 70 kg (= 154 lb) person makes about 40 kg (= 88 lb) of ATP/day,
which would be 57% of that person s body weight. As we discussed that, the
question arose, What would be the maximum amount of ATP that a person could
possibly make? To try to come up with an answer to that question, I did the
following calculations.
First, let s assume that person eats an average dietary intake of 2500 KCal
of food energy (a number listed on the side of many food packages and a
reasonable amount that such a person might consume).
However, just out of curiosity, let s assume that all (100%) of that is
glucose (In real life, that would be a terrible idea! We need all the other
nutrients that we get from eating a variety of foods.). Since carbohydrates
store about 4 KCal of energy per gram, that would mean that 2500 KCal of
glucose would be equivalent to 625 g (= 1.4 lb) of glucose. Since the
molecular weight of glucose is 180 g/m, this would be equivalent to 3.47 moles
of glucose.
Also, just for the sake of argument, let s assume that 100% of the ingested
glucose is burned for fuel, and that the process is 100% efficient so there is
no waste (in real life, our bodies would never use all 100% for fuel some
gets used to build other chemicals, and just like the fuel efficiency in our
automobiles, the process is never 100% efficient.). Since, as was mentioned
above, eukaryotes make about 36 moles of ATP from every mole of glucose, then
those 3.74 moles of glucose would be equivalent to 125 moles of ATP.
The molecular weight of ATP is 507 g/m, so that would be 63375 g or 63.375 kg
of ATP.
Thus, if it was really possible to meet all of those background assumptions
and a 70 kg person really could make 63 kg of ATP, that would be 90% of that
person s body weight! However, to think that we make even 57% about half
of our body weight each day in ATP is pretty amazing.
As another example:
suppose a person would consume one 12-oz. can of soft drink,
most types of soft drink contain about 41 to 49 g of sugar, so let s say
this soft drink contains 45 g,
suppose all of that sugar would be glucose,
suppose the person s body burns all of that sugar for fuel and does not
store any of it as fat or use any of it in other ways, and
suppose the process of cellular respiration is 100% efficient and the sugar
is completely oxidized to CO2 and H2O.
Then:
since the molecular weight of glucose is 180g/m, the 45 g of glucose would
be 0.25 m,
since cellular respiration produces 36 m ATP for each 1 m of glucose, that
would make 9 m of ATP, and
since the MW of ATP is 507 g/m, that would be equivalent to 4563 g (about 10
lb) of ATP.
Recently I received an e-mail message from a student who asked how long the
whole process takes. While I have never seen any information on that in print, a
rough approximation can also be calculated from the above statistic:
If, as mentioned above, an average 70 kg person makes about 40 kg of
ATP/day, then
40 kg/24 hr × 1 hr/60 min × 1000 g/kg = about 27.8 g/min.
Since the molecular weight of ATP is 507 g/m, then
that 27.8 g/min × 1 m/507 g = 0.0548 m/min.
Avagadro s number says that there are always 6.02 x 1023 molecules/mole,
so 0.0548 m/min × 6.02 x 1023 molecules/mole = 3.30 x 1022 molecules/min.
or, since there are 60 sec/min, then that s
3.30 x 1022 molecules/min × 1min/60 sec = 5.50 x 1020 molecules/sec made by a
70 kg body.
so that would be equivalent to
5.50 x 1020 molecules/sec ÷ 70 kg = 7.85 × 1018 molecules/sec/kg of body
or × 1kg/1000 g = 7.85 × 1015 molecules/sec/g of body
or × 1g/1000 mg = 7.85 × 1012 molecules/sec/mg of body
or × 1mg/1000 µg = 7.85 × 109 molecules/sec/µg of body.

Check out Dr. Fankhauser s pictures of the molecules involved in glycolysis.

References:
Berkow, Robert, ed. 1999. The Merck Manual. 17th ed. Merck, Sharp & Dohme,
Rahway, NJ.
Borror, Donald J. 1960. Dictionary of Root Words and Combining Forms. Mayfield
Publ. Co.
Campbell, Neil A., Lawrence G. Mitchell, Jane B. Reece. 1999. Biology, 5th Ed.
Benjamin/Cummings Publ. Co., Inc. Menlo Park, CA. (plus earlier editions)
Campbell, Neil A., Lawrence G. Mitchell, Jane B. Reece. 1999. Biology:
Concepts and Connections, 3rd Ed. Benjamin/Cummings Publ. Co., Inc. Menlo
Park, CA. (plus earlier editions)
Marchuk, William N. 1992. A Life Science Lexicon. Wm. C. Brown Publishers,
Dubuque, IA.

carterjs@uc.edu
File cellresp.htm was last modified on Wed 03 Nov 2004.
Copyright © 1996 by J. Stein Carter. All rights reserved.
This page has been accessed times since 15 Aug 2000.