Igamberdiev AU, Kleczkowski LA
Metabolic systems maintain stable non-equilibrium via thermodynamic buffering

BioEssays: 2009 31:1091-1099

Here, we analyze how the set of nucleotides in the cell is equilibrated and how this generates simple rules that help the cell to organize itself via maintenance of a stable non-equilibrium state. A major mechanism operating to achieve this state is thermodynamic buffering via high activities of equilibrating enzymes such as adenylate kinase. Under stable non-equilibrium, the ratios of free and Mg-bound adenylates, Mg2+ and membrane potentials are interdependent and can be computed. The adenylate status is balanced with the levels of reduced and oxidized pyridine nucleotides through regulated uncoupling of the pyridine nucleotide pool from ATP production in mitochondria, and through oxidation of substrates non-coupled to NAD+ reduction in peroxisomes. The set of adenylates and pyridine nucleotides constitutes a generalized cell energy status and determines rates of major metabolic fluxes. As the result, fluxes of energy and information become organized spatially and temporally, providing conditions for self-maintenance of metabolism.

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