Biochemically, fatty acids are rather nonreactive molecules unless they are first activated by thioesteri-fication to coenzyme A (CoA). This reaction is catalyzed by acyl-CoA synthetases (also known as acid : CoA ligases, E.C. 6.2.1.x). The overall acyl-CoA synthetase reaction is
RCOOH + ATP + CoA-SH ! RCO-S-CoA + AMP + PPi where PPi is inorganic pyrophosphate, ATP is ade-nosine triphosphate, and AMP is adenosine monophosphate. Owing to the wide diversity of fatty-acid chain lengths, many enzymes with varied substrate specificities have been identified.
It is estimated that humans have more than 25 enzymes capable of activating fatty acids and/or fatty-acid-like compounds. Acyl-CoA synthetases that activate fatty acids of similar chain lengths often have different tissue-expression patterns and/ or different subcellular locations. Thus, each enzyme may direct its fatty-acid substrates into a particular metabolic pathway.
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