The Wood–Ljungdahl pathway is a set of biochemical reactions used by some bacteria and archaea called acetogens. It is also known as the reductive acetyl-coenzyme A (Acetyl-CoA) pathway. This pathway enables these organisms to use hydrogen as an electron donor, and carbon dioxide as an electron acceptor and as a building block for biosynthesis.
In this pathway carbon dioxide is reduced to carbon monoxide and formic acid or directly into a formyl group, the formyl group is reduced to a methyl group and then combined with the carbon monoxide and Coenzyme A to produce acetyl-CoA. Two specific enzymes participate on the carbon monoxide side of the pathway: CO Dehydrogenase and acetyl-CoA synthase. The former catalyzes the reduction of the CO2 and the latter combines the resulting CO with a methyl group to give acetyl-CoA.
The pathway occurs in bacteria and archaea, e.g. methanogens and in acetate-producing bacteria such as Clostridium. Unlike the Reverse Krebs cycle and the Calvin cycle, this process is not cyclic. A recent study of the genomes of a set of bacteria and archaea suggests that the last universal common ancestor (LUCA) of all cells was using the Wood–Ljungdahl pathway in a hydrothermal setting. Phylometabolic reconstructions as well as chemical experiments suggest the pathway may have prebiotic origins.
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