hydrolases, are almost invariably exergonic. The formation of cellular polymers from their subunits by simple reversal of hydrolysis (that is, by condensation reactions) would be endergonic and therefore does not occur. As we shall see, cells circumvent this thermody-namic obstacle by coupling endergonic condensation reactions to exergonic processes, such as breakage of the anhydride bond in ATP.

You are (we hope!) consuming oxygen as you read. Water and carbon dioxide are the end products of the oxidation of fuels such as glucose. The overall reaction can be summarized as

C6H12O6 + 6O2 -n 6CO2 + 6H2O Glucose

The "metabolic water" formed by oxidation of foods and stored fats is actually enough to allow some animals in very dry habitats (gerbils, kangaroo rats, camels) to survive for extended periods without drinking water.

The CO2 produced by glucose oxidation is converted in erythrocytes to the more soluble HCO-, in a reaction catalyzed by the enzyme carbonic anhydrase:

In this reaction, water not only is a substrate but also functions in proton transfer by forming a network of hydrogen-bonded water molecules through which proton hopping occurs (Fig. 2-14).

Green plants and algae use the energy of sunlight to split water in the process of photosynthesis:


In this reaction, A is an electron-accepting species, which varies with the type of photosynthetic organism, and water serves as the electron donor in an oxidation-reduction sequence (see Fig. 19-XX) that is fundamental to all life.

SUMMARY 2.4 Water as a Reactant

■ Water is both the solvent in which metabolic reactions occur and a reactant in many biochemical processes, including hydrolysis, condensation, and oxidation-reduction reactions.

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