What is the Difference Between G3P and DHAP

G3P and DHAP, short for glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate and dihydroxyacetone phosphate, respectively, are two vital molecules in cellular metabolism. While both are three-carbon compounds, they serve different roles within metabolic pathways.

What is the difference between G3P and DHAP? 3GP is involved in energy production, whereas DHAP is involved in lipid biosynthesis.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is G3P (Glyceraldehyde-3-Phosphate)
      – Definition, Features 
2. What is DHAP (Dihydroxyacetone Phosphate)
      – Definition, Features 
3. Similarities Between G3P and DHAP
      – Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between G3P and DHAP
      – Comparison of Key Differences
5. FAQ: G3P and DHAP
      – Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Key Terms

G3P, Glyceraldehyde-3-Phosphate, DHAP, Dihydroxyacetone Phosphate

Difference Between G3P and DHAP - Comparison Summary

What is G3P

Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate(G3P) is a compound that serves as an intermediate in the conversion reactions of glucose to pyruvate. This reaction series happens in the cytoplasm. It breaks down glucose, releasing ATP and NADH. G3P forms from the enzymatic cleavage of fructose-1,6-bisphosphate, catalyzed by aldolase. Then, it undergoes further reactions to form pyruvate, which is a compound that enters the citric acid cycle or becomes a precursor for other metabolic pathways.


G3P participates in the Calvin cycle in photosynthetic organisms such as plants, algae, and cyanobacteria. It is one of the primary products of carbon fixation in the Calvin cycle and forms through the reduction of 3-phosphoglycerate by NADPH. It is then used to regenerate ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate (RuBP), which is essential for continuing the cycle. Hence, G3P serves as a major molecule connecting cellular respiration and photosynthetic pathways.

What is DHAP

DHAP (dihydroxyacetone phosphate) is a major compound in glycolysis and gluconeogenesis, which are two fundamental pathways in cellular metabolism. Its chemical formula is C3H7O6P. The structure of DHAP includes a three-carbon sugar phosphate with two hydroxyl groups attached to the first and second carbon atoms.

During the breakdown of glucose in glycolysis, DHAP is produced as an intermediate. Initially, glucose is phosphorylated to form glucose-6-phosphate, which then undergoes isomerization to fructose-6-phosphate. Fructose-6-phosphate is then phosphorylated again to form fructose-1,6-bisphosphate, which is cleaved into two three-carbon molecules: glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate (G3P) and DHAP. The enzyme triose phosphate isomerase rapidly interconverts DHAP and G3P, ensuring that glycolysis can proceed smoothly.


In gluconeogenesis, a process by which non-carbohydrate compounds such as lactate, pyruvate, and amino acids produce glucose, DHAP acts as an intermediate. The enzyme glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase converts DHAP into G3P.

DHAP also takes part in lipid biosynthesis. It serves as a precursor for the synthesis of glycerol, a backbone component of triglycerides, phospholipids, and other complex lipids. DHAP is also useful in the cosmetic industry as an ingredient in sunless tanning products.

Similarities Between G3P and DHAP

  1. G3P and DHAP are intermediates in the glycolysis pathway.
  2. Both molecules play a vital role in energy metabolism.

Difference Between G3P and DHAP


  • G3P or glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate is a compound that acts as an intermediate in the conversion reactions of glucose to pyruvate, whereas DHAP or dihydroxyacetone phosphate is a major compound in glycolysis and gluconeogenesis.


  • G3P has an aldehyde group, while DHAP has a ketone group.


  • G3P is produced directly from glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, while DHAP is produced from the isomerization of G3P by triose phosphate isomerase.


  • G3P is further metabolized in glycolysis to produce ATP and pyruvate, while DHAP is converted into G3P to continue through the glycolytic pathway.


1. What converts G3P to DHAP?

  • G3P is converted to DHAP by the enzyme triose phosphate isomerase (TPI), which catalyzes the interconversion of these two molecules within the glycolytic pathway. After this conversion, DHAP can further participate in glycolysis or undergo additional metabolic pathways depending on cellular needs.

2. What is G3P made from?

  • Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate (G3P) forms from glucose during the glycolysis process. As a three-carbon sugar, it plays a major role in the glycolytic pathway, contributing to the generation of energy and metabolic intermediates.

3. How is G3P converted to starch?

  • Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate converts to starch by first joining with dihydroxyacetone phosphate to create fructose biphosphate through enzymatic reactions. Further enzymatic steps follow to complete the synthesis pathway, resulting in the formation of starch.

4. Are DHAP and G3P part of glycolysis intermediates?

  • Yes, DHAP and G3P are intermediate compounds that play crucial roles in glycolysis, a metabolic pathway that breaks down glucose into pyruvate, generating ATP and NADH in the process.

5. Why can’t DHAP be used in glycolysis?

  • DHAP cannot be directly utilized in glycolysis because the glycolytic pathway requires glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate (G3P) as its substrate, not DHAP. However, DHAP can be converted to G3P via the enzyme triose phosphate isomerase (TPI) to enter glycolysis.


Both G3P and DHAP are intermediates in the glycolysis pathway. However, there is a difference between G3P and DHAP in terms of their chemical structures, production processes, and subsequent metabolic pathways.G3P, with its aldehyde group, primarily contributes to energy production, while DHAP, featuring a ketone group, serves as a precursor for lipid biosynthesis.


1. “Glyceraldehyde 3-Phosphate – An Overview.” Science Direct.
2. “Dihydroxyacetone Phosphate – An Overview.” Science Direct.

Image Courtesy:

1. “D-Glycerinaldehyde 3-phosphate deprotonated V1” By Jü – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Dihydroxyacetonphosphat Skelett” By NEUROtiker – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasa

Hasanthi is a seasoned content writer and editor with over 8 years of experience. Armed with a BA degree in English and a knack for digital marketing, she explores her passions for literature, history, culture, and food through her engaging and informative writing.

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