The Fate of the Carbon Atoms of Acetyl-CoA in the TCA Cycle

It is instructive to consider how the carbon atoms of a given acetate group are routed through several turns of the TCA cycle. As shown in Figure 20.21, neither of the carbon atoms of a labeled acetate unit is lost as CO2 in the first turn of the cycle. The CO2 evolved in any turn of the cycle derives from the carboxyl groups of the oxaloacetate acceptor (from the previous turn), not from incoming acetyl-CoA. On the other hand, succinate labeled on one end from the original labeled acetate forms two different labeled oxaloacetates. The carbonyl carbon of acetyl-CoA is evenly distributed between the two carboxyl carbons of oxaloacetate, and the labeled methyl carbon of incoming acetyl-CoA ends up evenly distributed between the methylene and carbonyl carbons of oxaloacetate. When these labeled oxaloacetates enter a second turn of the cycle, both of the carboxyl carbons are lost as CO2, but the methylene and carbonyl carbons survive through the second turn. Thus, the methyl carbon of a labeled acetyl-CoA survives two full turns of the cycle. In the third turn of the cycle, one-half of the carbon from the original methyl group of acetyl-CoA has become one of the carboxyl carbons of oxaloacetate and is thus lost as CO2. In the fourth turn of the cycle, further “scrambling” results in loss of half of the remaining labeled carbon (one-fourth of the original methyl carbon label of acetyl-CoA), and so on. It can be seen that the carbonyl and methyl carbons of labeled acetyl-CoA have very different fates in the TCA cycle. The carbonyl carbon survives the first turn intact but is completely lost in the second turn. The methyl carbón

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful