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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Discuss the importance of electrons in the transfer of energy in living systems
  • Explain how ATP is used by the cell as an energy source

Energy production within a cell involves many coordinated chemical pathways. Most of these pathways are combinations of oxidation and reduction reactions. Oxidation and reduction occur in tandem. An oxidation reaction strips an electron from an atom in a compound, and the addition of this electron to another compound is a reduction reaction. Because oxidation and reduction usually occur together, these pairs of reactions are called oxidation reduction reactions, or redox reactions .

Electrons and energy

The removal of an electron from a molecule, oxidizing it, results in a decrease in potential energy in the oxidized compound. The electron (sometimes as part of a hydrogen atom), does not remain unbonded, however, in the cytoplasm of a cell. Rather, the electron is shifted to a second compound, reducing the second compound. The shift of an electron from one compound to another removes some potential energy from the first compound (the oxidized compound) and increases the potential energy of the second compound (the reduced compound). The transfer of electrons between molecules is important because most of the energy stored in atoms and used to fuel cell functions is in the form of high-energy electrons. The transfer of energy in the form of electrons allows the cell to transfer and use energy in an incremental fashion—in small packages rather than in a single, destructive burst. This chapter focuses on the extraction of energy from food; you will see that as you track the path of the transfers, you are tracking the path of electrons moving through metabolic pathways.

Electron carriers

In living systems, a small class of compounds functions as electron shuttles: They bind and carry high-energy electrons between compounds in pathways. The principal electron carriers we will consider are derived from the B vitamin group and are derivatives of nucleotides. These compounds can be easily reduced (that is, they accept electrons) or oxidized (they lose electrons). Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) ( [link] ) is derived from vitamin B3, niacin. NAD + is the oxidized form of the molecule; NADH is the reduced form of the molecule after it has accepted two electrons and a proton (which together are the equivalent of a hydrogen atom with an extra electron).

NAD + can accept electrons from an organic molecule according to the general equation:

RH Reducing  agent  +  NAD + Oxidizing agent   NADH Reduced  + R Oxidized

When electrons are added to a compound, they are reduced. A compound that reduces another is called a reducing agent. In the above equation, RH is a reducing agent, and NAD + is reduced to NADH. When electrons are removed from compound, it oxidized. A compound that oxidizes another is called an oxidizing agent. In the above equation, NAD + is an oxidizing agent, and RH is oxidized to R.

Similarly, flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD + ) is derived from vitamin B 2 , also called riboflavin. Its reduced form is FADH 2 . A second variation of NAD, NADP, contains an extra phosphate group. Both NAD + and FAD + are extensively used in energy extraction from sugars, and NADP plays an important role in anabolic reactions and photosynthesis.

Questions & Answers

what is hormones
Igwe Reply
hormon is the chemical messanger
Sneha
21ecological instrument and their diagrams
Ayomide Reply
what are the kidney disease
Immaculate Reply
kidney stones
Gracelyne
it is a disease that affects the kidney
Miriam
what are some lung diseases
Gracelyne
what is micro-organism
Jackson Reply
what is the hypothesis
Jackson
hypothesis is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon
Miriam
hypothesis is raw materials
KP
what is biology
KP
biology is the study of living things and their interaction with their environment
Miriam
what does mean stigma
Amira Reply
what is the full of the MOST dangerous disease in the world where one stops sleeping and just dies :Hint ; FFI
God Reply
fatal familial insomnia which affects the thalamus
Miriam
there are other dangerous diseases like CAD i.e coronary artery disease
Miriam
what is matter
Thomas Reply
it is any thing that has weight and occupies space
Anye
matter is any substances that occupies spaces and has mass
Jackson
describe photosynthesis
Mavis Reply
What is equilibrium
Mavis
What is equilibrium
Mavis
like corporal intern balance right?
FRANCISCA
on my own understanding is just a balanced state
Stanley
photosynthesis is the process by which plants and other organisms convert light energy to chemical energy
Miriam
what is a chromosome?
Wise Reply
Are thread-like structures located inside the nucleus of animal and plant cells.
Canab
thx
Wise
what are the difference between Biotic community and Ecological nitche.
Ganiyat Reply
what is the celll
KAMOLIKA Reply
A cell is the simplest bit of living matter that exist independently
Ganiyat
cell is the basic unit of life
Shadrack
what is ecdysis
Shadrack
what is genetics
Sebastian Reply
The cell is the simplest bit of living matter that can exist independently.
Ganiyat
what happenes when the cell of an organism Is removed?
Isaac Reply
The cell will not function properly
Eunice
what is cell
Maarig Reply
cell is stractural and functional unit of our human body.
Rohini
The study of cells are referred to as?
Kenneth Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11448/1.10
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