Learn About Your Body’s TCA Cycle To The Tune Of Macklemore’s Thrift Shop

By Nick Venable | 8 years ago

Yes, it’s true that the triacaroxylic acid (TCA) cycle — the chemical process in which energy is created through the oxidization of the acetate found in digested carbs, fats and proteins — has been an important part of the human condition for a really long time. But TCA cycles have nowhere near the current popularity of hip-hop artist Macklemore’s ubiquitous single, “Thrift Shop.” Instead of allowing this one-sided non-battle to continue playing one above the other, students from the University of Ottawa — Wilson Lam in particular — decided to combine the two for a full-on instructional parody the trades off on mnemonic devices for ingenious lyricism.

“One of the awesome things about the intermediary metabolism course at The University of Ottawa is that a song contest is held where the students are challenged to write a song about the TCA (Krebs) Cycle,” writes Lam, a biochemistry undergrad. “I decided to also add a little glycolysis in here as well, just because I figured that it worked well.” And so it does. You can check out the complicated list of lyrics below. While most of this song is steeped in bioenergetic truth, I have trouble believing that “People be like, ‘Aw, he got the succinate.'” But well done anyway.

I’m gonna pop some carbs
Only got a lil’ glucose in my pathway
I – I – I’m lazy, lookin’ for some CoA
This is frigging awesome

[Verse 1]
Now I got some glucose; hell yeah, I’m in that prep phase
I’m so pumped; doin’ work with hexokinase
Glucose to the glucose with a number six phosphate
PGI to that fructose 6-phosphate (dayum)
ATP, ADP, phosphofructokinase E,
1,6-bis, FBP, adolase, two GAP;
GAPDH with some PGK & PGM,
3-P to the 2-Phosphoglycerate, and then
PEP to Pyruvate! (glycolysis)

[Verse 2]
FAD, NAD bout to go and grab some hydroG
Pumpin’ out all those substrates for some work yeah that’s that energy
shuttlin’ through that mito-C like nobody’s business
what you know about oxidation? biz-NITCH
I’mma do it TCA, I’mma do it TCA
No for real – movin’ on – can I have some A-CoA? (thank-you)
Citrate synthase from that CoA to that citrate
Aconitase, step two; isocitrate
I had some NAD+ (plus), I used some NAD+ (plus)
I made some NADH (Hhhhhhhh), and alpha-ketogluterate (oh snap)
dehydrogenase complex, plus some CoA
CO2, NADH out; succinyl CoA
then I take that GDP, add a P (GTP), hold on wait
CoAs gone, people be like “Aw, he got the succinate”

[Hook x2]

[Verse 3]
What you know about intermediary metabolism? (not much)
What you knowin’ about what’s goin’ on in your skin? (uhhhhh)
I’m diggin, I’m diggin, I’m lookin’ for some FAD
Step 6, succinate dehydrogenase, that’s the key (zing)
Movin’ on, reducin’ that FAD up to FADH2
fumarate, fumarase that’s the enzyme now go shift your gaze
to malate (okay); step 8, malate dehydrogenase
finish off; NADH, oxaloacetate (ahhhhh)

[Hook x2]

[Bridge x2]
That’s how Kreb’s cycle goes
If you didn’t doze now you know
This is how TCA flows
BCH actually doesn’t blow