Principles of Compartmentation

  • N. M. van Gelder


Compartmentation in biochemical terms refers to the separation of metabolic processes that together constitute a metabolic cycle. Examples of such cycles come readily to mind and include protein synthesis, the urea cycle, and the metabolism of glutamic acid. Typically, all cycles require a number of precisely sequenced metabolic steps which are not incorporated into a single anatomic entity. Therefore, any substance not immediately broken down by only one enzyme to CO2, H2O, or another excretion product may be considered to exhibit a compartmentalized metabolism. Each enzyme constitutes a distinct catalytic surface and hence a unique structure.1,2 In the course of its metabolism, a substance may be passed on many times from one specialized affinity site to another while its molecular structure is being rearranged, added to, or broken down. Thus, in addition to involving more than one anatomic element, compartmentation must also always include some type(s) of transfer or transport system(s). This is especially true when biochemical compartmentation involves more than one intracellular membrane-enclosed organelle or different cells of the same organ.


Glutamic Acid Nervous Tissue Tissue Preparation High Specific Activity Amino Acid Pool 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. M. van Gelder
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre de Recherche en Sciences Neurologiques, Département de Physiologie, Faculté de MédicineUniversité de MontréalMontrealCanada

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