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Basics of ATP

Adenosine Triphosphate and Respiration

Respiration is needed in all living organisms to gain energy. Small amounts of energy are gradually released over time rather that a rapid release all at once. Enzymes break down glucose resulting in a controlled amount of small quantities of energy in each stage. The energy produced provides energy to form a small molecule called adenosine triphosphate or commonly known as ATP.

The structure and importance of ATP


ATP is a naturally occurring molecule made during reparation and photosynthesis. The molecule consists of a nitrogenous base, adenine, a five-carbon sugar, ribose, and three phosphate groups all linked together.


When energy is transferred, it is inefficient since heat is lost whenever any mount of energy is transferred. Glucose gives an uncontrolled release of energy increasing the temperature, destroying cells. But instead of using glucose all at once, it is broken down into ATP. This ATP allows the body to control the amount of energy released so there is an increased efficiency.

Energy is needed to convert ADP and inorganic phosphate into ATP by condensation reactions. Due to the ATP holding the energy needed to create the molecule, it can break down by hydrolysis to give off that amount of energy. ATP breaks down by an enzyme reaction called ATPase; it forms ADT, inorganic phosphate and energy. The ATPase removes a phosphate yielding 30KJ Mol^-1 of free energy.

Advantages of ATP

There are several advantages in having ATP as a source of energy than that of glucose. These include: -The conversion of ATP to ADP only requires one single reaction and it releases energy immediately. On the other hand, the breakdown of glucose is time consuming and more energy is needed due to much more intermediates. -ATP only loses a phosphate ion when being converted into ADP. This only uses one enzyme. Due to many intermediates, there are many enzymes needed with the breakdown of glucose before immediate energy is produced.

Roles of ATP

Since ATP has the ability to provide energy, it is used in all living organisms making it the ‘universal energy currency’. There are many locations the body may use ATP. The following are some locations giving the reasons: -Nerve Transmission; Energy is required for active transport by the sodium and potassium ion pumps to pump sodium and potassium ions across the axon membrane. -Cells of metabolic processes such as the liver; ATP will be needed here in large numbers to build up small molecules into much more larger and complex molecules.


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