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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2008 Dec;1784(12):1873-98. doi: 10.1016/j.bbapap.2008.08.012. Epub 2008 Aug 27.

Acetogenesis and the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway of CO(2) fixation.

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Department of Biological Chemistry, MSRB III, 5301, 1150 W. Medical Center Drive, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0606, USA.


Conceptually, the simplest way to synthesize an organic molecule is to construct it one carbon at a time. The Wood-Ljungdahl pathway of CO(2) fixation involves this type of stepwise process. The biochemical events that underlie the condensation of two one-carbon units to form the two-carbon compound, acetate, have intrigued chemists, biochemists, and microbiologists for many decades. We begin this review with a description of the biology of acetogenesis. Then, we provide a short history of the important discoveries that have led to the identification of the key components and steps of this usual mechanism of CO and CO(2) fixation. In this historical perspective, we have included reflections that hopefully will sketch the landscape of the controversies, hypotheses, and opinions that led to the key experiments and discoveries. We then describe the properties of the genes and enzymes involved in the pathway and conclude with a section describing some major questions that remain unanswered.

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