Pyruvic acid is a colorless liquid organic acid. Pyruvic acid smells like
vinegar and can be formed by the distillation of tartaric
acid. It has the chemical formula CH3COCOOH. A derivative
of pyruvic acid known as phenylpyruvic acid occurs in the urine of people who suffer from phenylketonuria.
This is a disorder in which the amino acid phenylalanine is not metabolized normally.
|Pyruvic acid. Picture
Black = carbon, red = oxygen, white = hydrogen
|Pyruvic acid is formed during the breakdown of glucose
and some amino acids. Further breakdown varies, depending on the biochemical
system. In yeast, for example, the end product can be alcohol or gas
to raise the dough.
The carboxylate anion of pyruvic acid is known as pyruvate. Pyruvate is
an important intermediate in metabolism, being produced during glycolysis and converted to acetyl coenzyme A,
required for the citric acid cycle (Kreb's cycle). Under anaerobic conditions
pyruvate is converted to lactate or ethanol.