What Glycolytic Intermediate is Glycerol, Formed by Hydrolysis of Triacylglycerols, First Converted to During Its Metabolism?

What Glycolytic Intermediate is Glycerol, Formed by Hydrolysis of Triacylglycerols, First Converted to During Its Metabolism? When we think about glucose metabolism, our minds often wander to glycolysis, a fundamental and ancient metabolic pathway that extracts energy from glucose by splitting it into two three-carbon molecules known as pyruvates. Glycolysis is a crucial process found in various organisms, whether they utilize cellular respiration with oxygen or function anaerobically without it. This article will delve into the details of glycolysis, with a particular focus on the fate of glycerol, formed by the hydrolysis of triacylglycerols, and its first conversion during its metabolism.

What Glycolytic Intermediate is Glycerol, Formed by Hydrolysis of Triacylglycerols, First Converted to During Its Metabolism?
What Glycolytic Intermediate is Glycerol, Formed by Hydrolysis of Triacylglycerols, First Converted to During Its Metabolism?

Glycolysis: The Energy-Generating Journey

Glycolysis is a fascinating ten-step journey that takes place in the cytosol of cells. It can be divided into two main phases: the energy-requiring phase and the energy-releasing phase. During the energy-requiring phase, glucose is rearranged and phosphorylated, consuming two ATP molecules in the process. This results in the formation of fructose-1,6-bisphosphate, an unstable sugar that breaks down into two three-carbon molecules, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate, and dihydroxyacetone phosphate. However, only glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate continues to the next steps of glycolysis.

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Detailed Steps: Energy-Requiring Phase

Let’s take a closer look at the individual steps in the energy-requiring phase of glycolysis, where glucose undergoes crucial transformations. Each step is catalyzed by specific enzymes, which play a vital role in regulating glycolysis to meet the cell’s energy needs.

  • Step 1: Glucose is converted to glucose-6-phosphate through a phosphate group transfer from ATP. This not only makes glucose-6-phosphate more reactive but also traps glucose inside the cell.
  • Step 2: Glucose-6-phosphate is converted to its isomer, fructose-6-phosphate, setting the stage for further reactions.
  • Step 3: Fructose-6-phosphate undergoes another phosphate group transfer from ATP, forming fructose-1,6-bisphosphate. This step is catalyzed by the key regulatory enzyme phosphofructokinase.
  • Step 4: Fructose-1,6-bisphosphate splits into glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate and dihydroxyacetone phosphate. Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate is the preferred intermediate, while dihydroxyacetone phosphate can be converted easily to glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate.
  • Step 5: Dihydroxyacetone phosphate is converted to glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate, ensuring that all dihydroxyacetone phosphate molecules eventually participate in the pathway.

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Detailed Steps: Energy-Releasing Phase

In the energy-releasing phase of glycolysis, the three-carbon sugars from the first half undergo further transformations, leading to the production of four ATP molecules and two molecules of NADH.

  • Step 1: Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate is oxidized, and NAD+ is reduced to NADH, while an inorganic phosphate molecule is used to phosphorylate glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate, forming 1,3-bisphosphoglycerate.
  • Step 2: 1,3-bisphosphoglycerate donates a phosphate group to ADP, generating ATP and converting into 3-phosphoglycerate.
  • Step 3: 3-phosphoglycerate is converted to its isomer, 2-phosphoglycerate, preparing it for the next transformation.
  • Step 4: 2-phosphoglycerate undergoes a dehydration reaction, resulting in the formation of phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP), a high-energy intermediate.
  • Step 5: Phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP) donates its phosphate group to ADP, producing a second molecule of ATP while being converted to pyruvate, the final product of glycolysis.

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Fate of Pyruvate and NADH

At the end of glycolysis, each glucose molecule yields two pyruvate molecules, four ATP molecules (net gain of two ATP molecules after considering the initial ATP investment), and two molecules of NADH. The fate of pyruvate and NADH depends on the availability of oxygen in the cell.In the presence of oxygen, pyruvate undergoes further oxidation in cellular respiration, generating additional ATP molecules. NADH can then donate its electrons to the electron transport chain, where oxygen acts as the final electron acceptor, leading to the regeneration of NAD+ for use in glycolysis.

In the absence of oxygen, cells resort to fermentation, where NADH transfers its electrons to other acceptor molecules, regenerating NAD+ and allowing glycolysis to continue without net ATP production.


Glycolysis is a remarkable metabolic pathway that serves as the first step in glucose metabolism, playing a crucial role in extracting energy from glucose molecules. The fate of glycerol, formed by the hydrolysis of triacylglycerols, during glycolysis lies in its conversion to glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate. This energy-generating process is highly regulated, ensuring cells can adapt their glycolytic activity based on their energy needs. Whether oxygen is available or not determines the fate of pyruvate and NADH, impacting overall cellular energy production. Understanding glycolysis and its intermediates helps us comprehend the intricate processes that fuel life at the cellular level.

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