Acetyl-CoA is an important molecule in metabolism, used in many biochemical reactions. Its main use is to convey the carbon atoms within the acetyl group to the citric acid cycle to be oxidized for energy production. Chemically it is the thioester between coenzyme A (an acyl group carrier) and acetic acid. Acetyl-CoA is produced during the second step of aerobic cellular respiration, pyruvate decarboxylation, which occurs in the matrix of the mitochondria. Acetyl-CoA then enters the Krebs Cycle.

CAS number [72-89-9]
PubChem 181
MeSH Acetyl+Coenzyme+A
Molecular formula C23H38N7O17P3S
Molar mass 809.572
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for
materials in their standard state
(at 25 °C, 100 kPa)

Infobox disclaimer and references


Pyruvate dehydrogenase reaction

The conversion of pyruvate into acetyl-CoA is referred to as the pyruvate dehydrogenase reaction. It is catalyzed by the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex.

The enzyme consists of 60 subunits:

The E1 subunits use TPP (thiamin pyrophosphate), the E2 subunits use lipoate and coenzyme A, and the E3 subunits use FAD and NAD+ as coenzymes.

The reaction of this complex follows three steps:

  1. Initially, pyruvate is bound by pyruvate dehydrogenase (E1) subunits and attacked at C2 by the zwitterionic form (negative charge about C2 fo the thiazolium ring) of thiamin pyrophosphate, also bound by the enzyme. This tetrahedral intermediate undergoes decarboxylation resulting in an acyl anion equivalent (see cyanohydrin or aldehyde-dithiane umpolung chemistry, as well as benzoin condensation). This anion attacks the S1 of the oxidized lipoate species in an SN2-like mechanism that displaces the S2 thiol as a sulfide or sulfhydryl moiety. Subsequent breakdown of the thiazole-hemithioacetal species ejects the TPP cofactor and generates an S1 thioester about the lipoate moiety.
  2. At this point, the lipoate-thioester functionality is translocated into the lipoate transacetylase (E2) active site, where it undergoes a transacylation with coenzyme A, generating dihydrolipoate and acetyl-CoA which subsequently enters the citric acid cycle.
  3. The dihydrolipoate moiety then migrates to the dihydrolipoyl dehydrogenase (E3) active site where it undergoes FAD-mediated oxidation (identical in chemistry to disulfide isomerase) which returns lipoate to its resting state and generates FADH2, which is further oxidized by the bound nicotinamide cofactor producing NADH2 and regenerated flavin.

Fatty acid metabolism

In animals, acetyl-CoA is very central to the balance between carbohydrate metabolism and fat metabolism. Normally, acetyl-CoA from fatty acid metabolism feeds into the citric acid cycle, contributing to the cell's energy supply. In the liver, when levels of circulating fatty acids are high, the production of acetyl-CoA from fat breakdown exceeds the cellular energy requirements. To make use of the energy available from the excess acetyl-CoA, ketone bodies are produced which can then circulate in the blood.

In some circumstances this can lead to an excess of ketone bodies in the blood, a condition known as ketoacidosis. This can occur in diabetes, starvation or in people following low-carbohydrate diets, all of which can cause fats to be metabolised as a major source of energy.

In plants, de novo fatty acid synthesis occurs in the plastids. Many seeds accumulate large resevoirs of seed oils to support germination and early growth of the seedling before it is a net photosynthetic organism. Fatty acids are incorporated into membrane lipids, the major component of most membranes.

Other reactions

It is the precursor to HMG-CoA, which, in animals, is a vital component in cholesterol and ketone synthesis. Furthermore, it contributes an acetyl group to choline to produce acetylcholine, in a reaction catalysed by choline acetyltransferase.

In plants and animals, cytosolic acetyl-CoA is synthesized by ATP citrate lyase [1]. When glucose is abundant in the blood of animals, it is converted via glycolysis in the cytosol to pyruvate, and thence to acetyl-CoA in the mitochondrion. The excess of acetyl-CoA results in production of excess citrate, which is exported into the cytosol to give rise to cytosolic acetyl-CoA.

Acetyl-CoA can be carboxylated in the cytosol by acetyl-CoA carboxylase, giving rise to malonyl-CoA, a substrate required for synthesis of flavonones and related polyketides, for elongation of fatty acids to produce waxes, cuticle, seed oils in members of the Brassica family, and for malonation of proteins and other phytochemicals [2].

Two acetyl-CoA can be condensed to create acetoacetyl-CoA, the first step in the HMG-CoA/ mevalonic acid pathway leading to synthesis of isoprenoids. In plants these include sesquiterpenes, brassinosteroids (hormones), and membrane sterols.

See also

External links

The content of this section  is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License (local copy). It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Acetyl-CoA" modified March 11, 2007 with previous authors listed in its history.