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An example of this is glycogen breakdown by glycogen phosphorylase, which catalyzes attack by inorganic phosphate on the terminal glycosyl residue at the nonreducing end of a glycogen molecule. If the glycogen chain has n glucose units, the products of a single phosphorolytic event are one molecule of glucose 1-phosphate and a glycogen chain of n-1 remaining glucose units.
In addition, sometimes phosphorolysis is preferable to hydrolysis (like in the breakdown of glycogen or starch, as in the example above) because glucose 1-phosphate yields more ATP than does free glucose when subsequently catabolized to pyruvate.
Another example of phosphorolysis is seen in the conversion of glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate to 1,3-bisphosphoglycerate in glycolysis. The mechanism involves phosphorolysis.
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