Glycolysis is a universal catabolic pathway that converts glucose into pyruvate through a sequence of ten enzyme-catalyzed reactions, and generates the high-energy molecules ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and NADH (reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide). Its primary function is to provide energy and intermediates for other metabolic pathways. The glycolysis pathway can be separated into two phases: the preparatory/investment phase (first five reactions in the figure above) where ATP is consumed, and the pay-off phase (final five reactions in the figure above) where ATP is produced.
Glycolysis is an oxygen-independent metabolic pathway. Therefore, it not only plays important roles in generating energy to support normal cell homeostasis, but also is the major energy production pathway in hypoxic cancer cells. (Please check our “Cancer Metabolism ” page for more details.)