Related topics: genes · protein · cells · amino acids · diabetes

Understanding how microbiota thrive in their human hosts

A research team lead by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Biology, Tübingen, Germany, has now made substantial progress in understanding how gut bacteria succeed in their human hosts on a molecular level. They ...

Biochemists use new tool to control mRNA by means of light

A team of researchers at the Institute of Biochemistry at Münster University discovered that by using so-called FlashCaps they were able to control the translation of mRNA by means of light. The results have been published ...

How 'viral dark matter' may help mitigate climate change

A deep dive into the 5,500 marine RNA virus species scientists recently identified has found that several may help drive carbon absorbed from the atmosphere to permanent storage on the ocean floor.

New research gives insights into how organelles divide in cells

A pioneering study has shed new light on how subcellular organelles divide and multiply. The study, led by Professor Michael Schrader from the University of Exeter, has explored on peroxisome dynamics and revealed alternative ...

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Metabolism

Metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that occur in living organisms to maintain life. These processes allow organisms to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures, and respond to their environments. Metabolism is usually divided into two categories. Catabolism breaks down organic matter, for example to harvest energy in cellular respiration. Anabolism, on the other hand, uses energy to construct components of cells such as proteins and nucleic acids.

The chemical reactions of metabolism are organized into metabolic pathways, in which one chemical is transformed into another by a sequence of enzymes. Enzymes are crucial to metabolism because they allow organisms to drive desirable but thermodynamically unfavorable reactions by coupling them to favorable ones, and because they act as catalysts to allow these reactions to proceed quickly and efficiently. Enzymes also allow the regulation of metabolic pathways in response to changes in the cell's environment or signals from other cells.

The metabolism of an organism determines which substances it will find nutritious and which it will find poisonous. For example, some prokaryotes use hydrogen sulfide as a nutrient, yet this gas is poisonous to animals. The speed of metabolism, the metabolic rate, also influences how much food an organism will require.

A striking feature of metabolism is the similarity of the basic metabolic pathways between even vastly different species. For example, the set of carboxylic acids that are best known as the intermediates in the citric acid cycle are present in all organisms, being found in species as diverse as the unicellular bacteria Escherichia coli and huge multicellular organisms like elephants. These striking similarities in metabolism are most likely the result of the high efficiency of these pathways, and of their early appearance in evolutionary history.

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