4. Metabolism, Catabolism and Anabolism

Incomplete oxidation

In the second phase of the release of energy from food (phase II), the small molecules produced in the first phase—sugars, glycerol, a number of fatty acids, and about 20 varieties of amino acids—are incompletely oxidized (in this sense, oxidation means the removal of electrons or hydrogen atoms), the end product being (apart from carbon dioxide and water) one of only three possible substances: the two-carbon compound acetate, in the form of a compound called acetyl coenzyme A; the four-carbon compound oxaloacetate; and the five-carbon compound α-oxoglutarate. The first, acetate in the form of acetyl coenzyme A, constitutes by far the most common product—it is the product of two-thirds of the carbon incorporated into carbohydrates and glycerol; all of the carbon in most fatty acids; and approximately half of the carbon in amino acids. The end product of several amino acids is α-oxoglutarate; that of a few others is oxaloacetate, which is formed either directly or indirectly (from fumarate). These processes occur in animals, plants, bacteria, fungi, and other organisms capable of oxidizing their food materials wholly to carbon dioxide and water.

catabolism in E. coli

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