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Introduction to Pentose Phosphate Pathway
The pentose phosphate pathway is a biochemical process that occurs within the cytoplasm of human cells and it is common to all living organisms. This pathway plays several important roles. Firstly, it allows the cells to produce a reducing agent called nicotinamide dinucleotide adenine phosphate (NAPH). This reducing agent is used in processes such as fatty acid biosynthesis, cholesterol biosynthesis, nucleotide biosynthesis and neurotransmitter biosynthesis. It is also used in several cell detoxification processes. Secondly, this pathway allows us to be able to ingest and subsequently break down pentose sugars. Thirdly, it gives us a way to synthesize five-carbon sugars used to create nucleotide-based molecules such as nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), ATP molecules, FAD, NADH and coenzyme A. Lastly, it gives us a way to generate less common three-carbon and seven-carbon sugars (i.e. sedoheptulose). The pentose phosphate pathway can be broken down into two phases - the oxidative phase and the nonoxidative phase. The oxidative phase consists of breaking down glucose into a ribose sugar, carbon dioxide ,H+ ions and NADPH molecules. The nonoxidative phase involves the interconversion of sugars and the conversion of excess pentose sugars into glycolytic intermediates.
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