Cells need the energy to perform their activities and the required energy is produced during the process of cellular respiration. The food nutrition is broken down into energy and stored in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Cellular respiration is formed by three major processes namely glycolysis, citric acid cycle, and oxidative phosphorylation. The glycolysis pathway occurs in the cytosol in most of the eukaryotic organisms and the remaining process takes place in the mitochondria. Mitochondria is a membrane-bound organelle scattered through the cytosol of eukaryotic cells. Their main purpose is to generate energy (ATP) from food molecules. The mitochondria consist of two membranes namely the outer membrane and inner membrane. Mitochondria outer membrane forms a channel with the help of membrane protein through which many ion molecules enter and exit in the mitochondrial wall. While the inner membrane is comprised of five complexes of membrane protein namely cytochrome c oxidase, cytochrome c reductase, succinate dehydrogenase, NADH dehydrogenase, and ATP synthase. The inner membrane of mitochondria is doubled into shelf-like cristae bulging into the matrix. This matrix contains a mixture of soluble enzymes that speed up the respiration of pyruvic acid and other organic molecules.
The glycolysis pathway is also called a glycolytic pathway which converts the glucose molecule into pyruvic acid. During this glycolysis process, the energy which is obtained due to the breakdown of a sugar molecule and other organic molecules from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins is observed and stored in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The glycolysis pathway also converts the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) into NADH. The resultant pyruvate molecule from the glycolysis pathway enters the mitochondria. In mitochondria, the pyruvate molecule is transferred into a compound called acetyl coenzyme A which initiates the citric acid cycle
Tricarboxylic Acid (TCA) Cycle
The tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle also called a Krebs cycle or citric acid cycle is the major process involved in the breakdown of organic molecules. The TCA cycle process is regulated by eight-step which is driven by different enzymes at several stages. Most of the energy is obtained from NAD+ and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) during the process of the TCA cycle. In the TCA cycle, three molecules of NAD+ are reduced into three molecules of NADH while the single-molecule of FAD is reduced into FADH2. These molecules enter the final stage to support the oxidative phosphorylation cycle. While the remaining carbon-di-oxide is released as a waste product from the citric acid cycle.
Process of Oxidative Phosphorylation
Oxidative phosphorylation is the last step involved in cellular respiration. The electron transport chain and chemiosmosis make up the oxidative phosphorylation. In the process of the electron transport chain, the electron is transmitted from one molecule to another. During the transmission, energy is created which is stored in the gradient which is used to make ATP. In oxidative phosphorylation, the electron carriers such as NADH and FADH2 transfer their electron to the molecule involved in the process of electron transport chain. In the electron transport chain, this NADH and FADH2 are converted into NAD+ and FAD. Energy is released due to the transfer of an electron from a higher level to a lower energy level. Some energy is used to pump hydrogen ions which helps them exist in the matrix and enters into the inter-membrane space and this results in creating an electrochemical gradient. Then these electrons and protons are captured by oxygen molecules at the end of the electron transport chain to form a water molecule. The flow of hydrogen ions enters into the matrix through an enzyme known as ATP synthase which attaches to the flow of proton to produce ATP.
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