Near-equilibrium glycolysis supports metabolic homeostasis and energy yield

Junyoung O. Park, Lukas B. Tanner, Monica H. Wei, Daven B. Khana, Tyler B. Jacobson, Zheyun Zhang, Sara A. Rubin, Sophia Hsin Jung Li, Meytal B. Higgins, David M. Stevenson, Daniel Amador-Noguez, Joshua D. Rabinowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Glycolysis plays a central role in producing ATP and biomass. Its control principles, however, remain incompletely understood. Here, we develop a method that combines 2H and 13C tracers to determine glycolytic thermodynamics. Using this method, we show that, in conditions and organisms with relatively slow fluxes, multiple steps in glycolysis are near to equilibrium, reflecting spare enzyme capacity. In Escherichia coli, nitrogen or phosphorus upshift rapidly increases the thermodynamic driving force, deploying the spare enzyme capacity to increase flux. Similarly, respiration inhibition in mammalian cells rapidly increases both glycolytic flux and the thermodynamic driving force. The thermodynamic shift allows flux to increase with only small metabolite concentration changes. Finally, we find that the cellulose-degrading anaerobe Clostridium cellulolyticum exhibits slow, near-equilibrium glycolysis due to the use of pyrophosphate rather than ATP for fructose-bisphosphate production, resulting in enhanced per-glucose ATP yield. Thus, near-equilibrium steps of glycolysis promote both rapid flux adaptation and energy efficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1001-1008
Number of pages8
JournalNature Chemical Biology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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