Information

7.26: ATP in Living Systems - Biology

7.26: ATP in Living Systems - Biology



We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Learning Objectives

Describe how cells store and transfer free energy using ATP

A living cell cannot store significant amounts of free energy. Excess free energy would result in an increase of heat in the cell, which would result in excessive thermal motion that could damage and then destroy the cell. Rather, a cell must be able to handle that energy in a way that enables the cell to store energy safely and release it for use only as needed. Living cells accomplish this by using the compound adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is often called the “energy currency” of the cell, and, like currency, this versatile compound can be used to fill any energy need of the cell. How? It functions similarly to a rechargeable battery.

A YouTube element has been excluded from this version of the text. You can view it online here: pb.libretexts.org/bionm1/?p=230

When ATP is broken down, usually by the removal of its terminal phosphate group, energy is released. The energy is used to do work by the cell, usually by the released phosphate binding to another molecule, activating it. For example, in the mechanical work of muscle contraction, ATP supplies the energy to move the contractile muscle proteins. Recall the active transport work of the sodium-potassium pump in cell membranes. ATP alters the structure of the integral protein that functions as the pump, changing its affinity for sodium and potassium. In this way, the cell performs work, pumping ions against their electrochemical gradients.

ATP Structure and Function

At the heart of ATP is a molecule of adenosine monophosphate (AMP), which is composed of an adenine molecule bonded to a ribose molecule and to a single phosphate group (Figure 1). Ribose is a five-carbon sugar found in RNA, and AMP is one of the nucleotides in RNA. The addition of a second phosphate group to this core molecule results in the formation of adenosine diphosphate (ADP); the addition of a third phosphate group forms adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

The addition of a phosphate group to a molecule requires energy. Phosphate groups are negatively charged and thus repel one another when they are arranged in series, as they are in ADP and ATP. This repulsion makes the ADP and ATP molecules inherently unstable. The release of one or two phosphate groups from ATP, a process called dephosphorylation, releases energy.

Energy from ATP

Hydrolysis is the process of breaking complex macromolecules apart. During hydrolysis, water is split, or lysed, and the resulting hydrogen atom (H+) and a hydroxyl group (OH) are added to the larger molecule. The hydrolysis of ATP produces ADP, together with an inorganic phosphate ion (Pi), and the release of free energy. To carry out life processes, ATP is continuously broken down into ADP, and like a rechargeable battery, ADP is continuously regenerated into ATP by the reattachment of a third phosphate group. Water, which was broken down into its hydrogen atom and hydroxyl group during ATP hydrolysis, is regenerated when a third phosphate is added to the ADP molecule, reforming ATP.

Obviously, energy must be infused into the system to regenerate ATP. Where does this energy come from? In nearly every living thing on earth, the energy comes from the metabolism of glucose. In this way, ATP is a direct link between the limited set of exergonic pathways of glucose catabolism and the multitude of endergonic pathways that power living cells.

Phosphorylation

Recall that, in some chemical reactions, enzymes may bind to several substrates that react with each other on the enzyme, forming an intermediate complex. An intermediate complex is a temporary structure, and it allows one of the substrates (such as ATP) and reactants to more readily react with each other; in reactions involving ATP, ATP is one of the substrates and ADP is a product. During an endergonic chemical reaction, ATP forms an intermediate complex with the substrate and enzyme in the reaction. This intermediate complex allows the ATP to transfer its third phosphate group, with its energy, to the substrate, a process called phosphorylation. Phosphorylation refers to the addition of the phosphate (~P). This is illustrated by the following generic reaction:

A + enzyme + ATP → [A − enzyme − ~P] → B + enzyme + ADP + phosphate ion

When the intermediate complex breaks apart, the energy is used to modify the substrate and convert it into a product of the reaction. The ADP molecule and a free phosphate ion are released into the medium and are available for recycling through cell metabolism.

Substrate Phosphorylation

ATP is generated through two mechanisms during the breakdown of glucose. A few ATP molecules are generated (that is, regenerated from ADP) as a direct result of the chemical reactions that occur in the catabolic pathways. A phosphate group is removed from an intermediate reactant in the pathway, and the free energy of the reaction is used to add the third phosphate to an available ADP molecule, producing ATP (Figure 2). This very direct method of phosphorylation is called substrate-level phosphorylation.

Oxidative Phosphorylation

Most of the ATP generated during glucose catabolism, however, is derived from a much more complex process, chemiosmosis, which takes place in mitochondria (Figure 3) within a eukaryotic cell or the plasma membrane of a prokaryotic cell.

Chemiosmosis, a process of ATP production in cellular metabolism, is used to generate 90 percent of the ATP made during glucose catabolism and is also the method used in the light reactions of photosynthesis to harness the energy of sunlight. The production of ATP using the process of chemiosmosis is called oxidative phosphorylation because of the involvement of oxygen in the process.

Learning Objectives

ATP functions as the energy currency for cells. It allows the cell to store energy briefly and transport it within the cell to support endergonic chemical reactions. The structure of ATP is that of an RNA nucleotide with three phosphates attached. As ATP is used for energy, a phosphate group or two are detached, and either ADP or AMP is produced. Energy derived from glucose catabolism is used to convert ADP into ATP. When ATP is used in a reaction, the third phosphate is temporarily attached to a substrate in a process called phosphorylation. The two processes of ATP regeneration that are used in conjunction with glucose catabolism are substrate-level phosphorylation and oxidative phosphorylation through the process of chemiosmosis.


Oxidation-Reduction Reactions in Living Organisms

In biological systems energy is generally released from oxidation-reduction reactions of organic compounds catalysed by enzymes. It is, therefore, necessary to understand clearly the nature of oxidation-reduction reactions occurring in living systems. The most common organic compound used as substrate for energy production is glucose.

When one mole of glucose equivalent to 180g is burnt in air under non-biological conditions, 674 Kcal of energy is liberated as heat and the products are CO2 and H2O. When glucose is used as substrate for aerobic respiration by an organism, the same amount of energy is liberated and the products are CO2 and H2O (C6H12O6 = 6CO2 + 6H2O + 674 Kcal). But in respiration only a part of the liberated energy is converted to chemical energy (ATP) and the rest is lost as heat.

The question may arise wherein the glucose molecule energy is hidden. Glucose or any other molecule has the energy stored in the electrons that form the chemical bonds between the atoms constituting the molecule. Energy is required for binding the atoms together and it is stored in the chemical bonds as potential energy. When these bonds are broken, energy is liberated in usable form.

The amount of energy that can be set free from a molecule is known as its free energy, conventionally designated as G. In a hypothetical reaction, if the reactants A and B produce products C and D then the difference between the total free energy of A and B and the total free energy of C and D is called the free-energy change which is designated as ∆G.

When the reactants A and B produce C and D with liberation of energy, ∆G is conventionally given a negative sign (-∆G) which means the reaction is exergonic. Under standard conditions, i.e. when both reactants and products are present in 1 molar concentration at a temperature of 25°C under 1 atm. pressure, ∆G is represented as ∆G 0 which is standard free energy change.

It should be made clear that a chemical or biochemical reaction can run spontaneously only when it is exergonic i.e. ∆G is negative. In other words, a reaction will run spontaneously till the free energy change (∆G) assumes the value of zero and in that stage the reaction will reach the equilibrium. At equilibrium, the concentrations of the reactants and products are such that the total free energy contents of the reactants and products are equal i.e. ∆G = 0. At this stage, the concentration of the products is higher than that of the reactants.

Standard free energy change (∆G°) of a reaction can be calculated from the equation AG°=-RT InK where R is the gas constant having a value of 1.987, T is the absolute temperature (273 + °C) and InK is the natural logarithm of the equilibrium constant of the reaction (2.303 log K). In the hypothetical reaction A+B , <===> C+D, K is calculated from the ratio of the products of concentrations of C+D and that of A + B i.e. [C] x [D] /[A]x[B] = K. If this ratio is greater than 1, ∆G° becomes negative. From the above equation, AG under physiological conditions can be calculated from the relation AG = AG° + RT InK.

Another important parameter of oxidation-reduction reactions is the redox-potential which gives a quantitative measure of the tendency of a compound or an element to lose electrons. In an oxidation- reduction reaction, electrons donated by one compound or element are accepted by another compound or element. As a result, the donor becomes oxidized (loss of electrons) and the acceptor becomes reduced (addition of electrons).

So, oxidation and reduction always go hand in hand. Such pair of reactions is generally known as redox reactions. In most biological systems, the redox reactions involve removal or addition of hydrogen atoms i.e. a proton and an electron. Such reactions are catalyzed by the enzymes called dehydrogenases.

The tendency of a compound to lose electrons is expressed in relation to the tendency of molecular hydrogen to lose electrons i.e. H2 <===> 2H + + 2e – . For biological systems, the redox-potential is expressed as standard reduction potential or electromotive force (emf) in volts when the reactant and oxidant are present in 1.0 M concentration at pH 7.0 and 25°C. The standard redox-potential of H2 —> 2H + + 2e – is -0.42v. The more positive the redox-potential is, greater is the tendency to lose electrons i.e. greater is the oxidizing ability.

In living organisms, the energy released by exergonic reactions is utilized to drive endergonic reactions and also for other purposes, such as locomotion. The transfer of energy from one reaction to another takes place via some common reactants which take part in both the exergonic and the endergonic reactions.

These common reactants are characterized by a high transfer potential and they are called energy-rich compounds. The most common of such compounds is ATP. The last phosphate group of ATP is bound to the rest of the molecule by an unstable bond and can be quickly separated or transferred to an acceptor with release of large amount of free energy.

Thus, ATP has a high transfer potential and can take part in many biochemical reactions.

ATP molecules are comparatively larger in size and, therefore, they are unsuitable for storing energy. For storing energy, the living systems use smaller molecules like glucose where the energy is stored in the chemical bonds. So, the potential energy of glucose has to be released through breakdown of the molecule in a stepwise manner by catabolic reactions. In living systems, glucose can be catabolized by several pathways.


Electrons and Energy

The removal of an electron from a molecule, oxidizing it, results in a decrease in potential energy in the oxidized compound. The electron (sometimes as part of a hydrogen atom), does not remain unbonded, however, in the cytoplasm of a cell. Rather, the electron is shifted to a second compound, reducing the second compound. The shift of an electron from one compound to another removes some potential energy from the first compound (the oxidized compound) and increases the potential energy of the second compound (the reduced compound). The transfer of electrons between molecules is important because most of the energy stored in atoms and used to fuel cell functions is in the form of high-energy electrons. The transfer of energy in the form of electrons allows the cell to transfer and use energy in an incremental fashion—in small packages rather than in a single, destructive burst. This chapter focuses on the extraction of energy from food you will see that as you track the path of the transfers, you are tracking the path of electrons moving through metabolic pathways.


7.1 Energy in Living Systems

By the end of this section, you will be able to do the following:

  • Discuss the importance of electrons in the transfer of energy in living systems
  • Explain how ATP is used by cells as an energy source

Energy production within a cell involves many coordinated chemical pathways. Most of these pathways are combinations of oxidation and reduction reactions, which occur at the same time. An oxidation reaction strips an electron from an atom in a compound, and the addition of this electron to another compound is a reduction reaction. Because oxidation and reduction usually occur together, these pairs of reactions are called oxidation reduction reactions, or redox reactions .

Electrons and Energy

The removal of an electron from a molecule (oxidizing it), results in a decrease in potential energy in the oxidized compound. However, the electron (sometimes as part of a hydrogen atom) does not remain unbonded in the cytoplasm of a cell. Rather, the electron is shifted to a second compound, reducing the second compound. The shift of an electron from one compound to another removes some potential energy from the first compound (the oxidized compound) and increases the potential energy of the second compound (the reduced compound). The transfer of electrons between molecules is important because most of the energy stored in atoms and used to fuel cell functions is in the form of high-energy electrons. The transfer of energy in the form of high-energy electrons allows the cell to transfer and use energy in an incremental fashion—in small packages rather than in a single, destructive burst. This chapter focuses on the extraction of energy from food you will see that as you track the path of the transfers, you are tracking the path of electrons moving through metabolic pathways.

Electron Carriers

In living systems, a small class of compounds functions as electron shuttles: they bind and carry high-energy electrons between compounds in biochemical pathways. The principal electron carriers we will consider are derived from the B vitamin group and are derivatives of nucleotides. These compounds can be easily reduced (that is, they accept electrons) or oxidized (they lose electrons). Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) (Figure 7.2) is derived from vitamin B3, niacin. NAD + is the oxidized form of the molecule NADH is the reduced form of the molecule after it has accepted two electrons and a proton (which together are the equivalent of a hydrogen atom with an extra electron). Note that if a compound has an “H” on it, it is generally reduced (e.g., NADH is the reduced form of NAD).

NAD + can accept electrons from an organic molecule according to the general equation:

When electrons are added to a compound, it is reduced. A compound that reduces another is called a reducing agent. In the above equation, RH is a reducing agent, and NAD + is reduced to NADH. When electrons are removed from a compound, it is oxidized. A compound that oxidizes another is called an oxidizing agent. In the above equation, NAD + is an oxidizing agent, and RH is oxidized to R.

Similarly, flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD + ) is derived from vitamin B2, also called riboflavin. Its reduced form is FADH2. A second variation of NAD, NADP, contains an extra phosphate group. Both NAD + and FAD + are extensively used in energy extraction from sugars, and NADP plays an important role in anabolic reactions and photosynthesis in plants.

ATP in Living Systems

A living cell cannot store significant amounts of free energy. Excess free energy would result in an increase of heat in the cell, which would result in excessive thermal motion that could damage and then destroy the cell. Rather, a cell must be able to handle that energy in a way that enables the cell to store energy safely and release it for use only as needed. Living cells accomplish this by using the compound adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is often called the “energy currency” of the cell, and, like currency, this versatile compound can be used to fill any energy need of the cell. How? It functions similarly to a rechargeable battery.

When ATP is broken down, usually by the removal of its terminal phosphate group, energy is released. The energy is used to do work by the cell, usually when the released phosphate binds to another molecule, thereby activating it. For example, in the mechanical work of muscle contraction, ATP supplies the energy to move the contractile muscle proteins. Recall the active transport work of the sodium-potassium pump in cell membranes. ATP alters the structure of the integral protein that functions as the pump, changing its affinity for sodium and potassium. In this way, the cell performs work, pumping ions against their electrochemical gradients.

ATP Structure and Function

At the heart of ATP is a molecule of adenosine monophosphate (AMP), which is composed of an adenine molecule bonded to a ribose molecule and to a single phosphate group (Figure 7.3). Ribose is a five-carbon sugar found in RNA, and AMP is one of the nucleotides in RNA. The addition of a second phosphate group to this core molecule results in the formation of adenosine diphosphate (ADP) the addition of a third phosphate group forms adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

The addition of a phosphate group to a molecule requires energy. Phosphate groups are negatively charged and thus repel one another when they are arranged in series, as they are in ADP and ATP. This repulsion makes the ADP and ATP molecules inherently unstable. The release of one or two phosphate groups from ATP, a process called dephosphorylation , releases energy.

Energy from ATP

Hydrolysis is the process of breaking complex macromolecules apart. During hydrolysis, water is split, or lysed, and the resulting hydrogen atom (H + ) and a hydroxyl group (OH - ), or hydroxide, are added to the larger molecule. The hydrolysis of ATP produces ADP, together with an inorganic phosphate ion (Pi), and the release of free energy. To carry out life processes, ATP is continuously broken down into ADP, and like a rechargeable battery, ADP is continuously regenerated into ATP by the reattachment of a third phosphate group. Water, which was broken down into its hydrogen atom and hydroxyl group (hydroxide) during ATP hydrolysis, is regenerated when a third phosphate is added to the ADP molecule, reforming ATP.

Obviously, energy must be infused into the system to regenerate ATP. Where does this energy come from? In nearly every living thing on Earth, the energy comes from the metabolism of glucose, fructose, or galactose, all isomers with the chemical formula C6H12O6 but different molecular configurations. In this way, ATP is a direct link between the limited set of exergonic pathways of glucose catabolism and the multitude of endergonic pathways that power living cells.

Phosphorylation

Recall that, in some chemical reactions, enzymes may bind to several substrates that react with each other on the enzyme, forming an intermediate complex. An intermediate complex is a temporary structure, and it allows one of the substrates (such as ATP) and reactants to more readily react with each other in reactions involving ATP, ATP is one of the substrates and ADP is a product. During an endergonic chemical reaction, ATP forms an intermediate complex with the substrate and enzyme in the reaction. This intermediate complex allows the ATP to transfer its third phosphate group, with its energy, to the substrate, a process called phosphorylation. Phosphorylation refers to the addition of the phosphate (

P). This is illustrated by the following generic reaction, in which A and B represent two different substrates:

When the intermediate complex breaks apart, the energy is used to modify the substrate and convert it into a product of the reaction. The ADP molecule and a free phosphate ion are released into the medium and are available for recycling through cell metabolism.

Substrate Phosphorylation

ATP is generated through two mechanisms during the breakdown of glucose. A few ATP molecules are generated (that is, regenerated from ADP) as a direct result of the chemical reactions that occur in the catabolic pathways. A phosphate group is removed from an intermediate reactant in the pathway, and the free energy of the reaction is used to add the third phosphate to an available ADP molecule, producing ATP (Figure 7.4). This very direct method of phosphorylation is called substrate-level phosphorylation .

Oxidative Phosphorylation

Most of the ATP generated during glucose catabolism, however, is derived from a much more complex process, chemiosmosis, which takes place in mitochondria (Figure 7.5) within a eukaryotic cell or the plasma membrane of a prokaryotic cell. Chemiosmosis , a process of ATP production in cellular metabolism, is used to generate 90 percent of the ATP made during glucose catabolism and is also the method used in the light reactions of photosynthesis to harness the energy of sunlight. The production of ATP using the process of chemiosmosis is called oxidative phosphorylation because of the involvement of oxygen in the process.

Career Connection

Mitochondrial Disease Physician

What happens when the critical reactions of cellular respiration do not proceed correctly? This may happen in mitochondrial diseases, which are genetic disorders of metabolism. Mitochondrial disorders can arise from mutations in nuclear or mitochondrial DNA, and they result in the production of less energy than is normal in body cells. In type 2 diabetes, for instance, the oxidation efficiency of NADH is reduced, impacting oxidative phosphorylation but not the other steps of respiration. Symptoms of mitochondrial diseases can include muscle weakness, lack of coordination, stroke-like episodes, and loss of vision and hearing. Most affected people are diagnosed in childhood, although there are some adult-onset diseases. Identifying and treating mitochondrial disorders is a specialized medical field. The educational preparation for this profession requires a college education, followed by medical school with a specialization in medical genetics. Medical geneticists can be board certified by the American Board of Medical Genetics and go on to become associated with professional organizations devoted to the study of mitochondrial diseases, such as the Mitochondrial Medicine Society and the Society for Inherited Metabolic Disorders.


ATP in Living Systems

A living cell cannot store significant amounts of free energy. Excess free energy would result in an increase of heat in the cell, which would result in excessive thermal motion that could damage and then destroy the cell. Rather, a cell must be able to handle that energy in a way that enables the cell to store energy safely and release it for use only as needed. Living cells accomplish this by using the compound adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is often called the “energy currency” of the cell, and, like currency, this versatile compound can be used to fill any energy need of the cell. How? It functions similarly to a rechargeable battery.

When ATP is broken down, usually by the removal of its terminal phosphate group, energy is released. The energy is used to do work by the cell, usually by the released phosphate binding to another molecule, activating it. For example, in the mechanical work of muscle contraction, ATP supplies the energy to move the contractile muscle proteins. Recall the active transport work of the sodium-potassium pump in cell membranes. ATP alters the structure of the integral protein that functions as the pump, changing its affinity for sodium and potassium. In this way, the cell performs work, pumping ions against their electrochemical gradients.


33 Energy in Living Systems

By the end of this section, you will be able to do the following:

  • Discuss the importance of electrons in the transfer of energy in living systems
  • Explain how ATP is used by cells as an energy source

Energy production within a cell involves many coordinated chemical pathways. Most of these pathways are combinations of oxidation and reduction reactions, which occur at the same time. An oxidation reaction strips an electron from an atom in a compound, and the addition of this electron to another compound is a reduction reaction. Because oxidation and reduction usually occur together, these pairs of reactions are called oxidation reduction reactions, or redox reactions .

Electrons and Energy

The removal of an electron from a molecule (oxidizing it), results in a decrease in potential energy in the oxidized compound. The electron (sometimes as part of a hydrogen atom) does not remain unbonded, however, in the cytoplasm of a cell. Rather, the electron is shifted to a second compound, reducing the second compound. The shift of an electron from one compound to another removes some potential energy from the first compound (the oxidized compound) and increases the potential energy of the second compound (the reduced compound). The transfer of electrons between molecules is important because most of the energy stored in atoms and used to fuel cell functions is in the form of high-energy electrons. The transfer of energy in the form of high-energy electrons allows the cell to transfer and use energy in an incremental fashion—in small packages rather than in a single, destructive burst. This chapter focuses on the extraction of energy from food you will see that as you track the path of the transfers, you are tracking the path of electrons moving through metabolic pathways.

Electron Carriers

In living systems, a small class of compounds functions as electron shuttles: they bind and carry high-energy electrons between compounds in biochemical pathways. The principal electron carriers we will consider are derived from the B vitamin group and are derivatives of nucleotides. These compounds can be easily reduced (that is, they accept electrons) or oxidized (they lose electrons). Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) ((Figure)) is derived from vitamin B3, niacin. NAD + is the oxidized form of the molecule NADH is the reduced form of the molecule after it has accepted two electrons and a proton (which together are the equivalent of a hydrogen atom with an extra electron). Note that if a compound has an “H” on it, it is generally reduced (e.g., NADH is the reduced form of NAD).

NAD + can accept electrons from an organic molecule according to the general equation:

When electrons are added to a compound, it is reduced. A compound that reduces another is called a reducing agent. In the above equation, RH is a reducing agent, and NAD + is reduced to NADH. When electrons are removed from a compound, it is oxidized. A compound that oxidizes another is called an oxidizing agent. In the above equation, NAD + is an oxidizing agent, and RH is oxidized to R.

Similarly, flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD + ) is derived from vitamin B2, also called riboflavin. Its reduced form is FADH2. A second variation of NAD, NADP, contains an extra phosphate group. Both NAD + and FAD + are extensively used in energy extraction from sugars, and NADP plays an important role in anabolic reactions and photosynthesis in plants.

ATP in Living Systems

A living cell cannot store significant amounts of free energy. Excess free energy would result in an increase of heat in the cell, which would result in excessive thermal motion that could damage and then destroy the cell. Rather, a cell must be able to handle that energy in a way that enables the cell to store energy safely and release it for use only as needed. Living cells accomplish this by using the compound adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is often called the “energy currency” of the cell, and, like currency, this versatile compound can be used to fill any energy need of the cell. How? It functions similarly to a rechargeable battery.

When ATP is broken down, usually by the removal of its terminal phosphate group, energy is released. The energy is used to do work by the cell, usually when the released phosphate binds to another molecule, thereby activating it. For example, in the mechanical work of muscle contraction, ATP supplies the energy to move the contractile muscle proteins. Recall the active transport work of the sodium-potassium pump in cell membranes. ATP alters the structure of the integral protein that functions as the pump, changing its affinity for sodium and potassium. In this way, the cell performs work, pumping ions against their electrochemical gradients.

ATP Structure and Function

At the heart of ATP is a molecule of adenosine monophosphate (AMP), which is composed of an adenine molecule bonded to a ribose molecule and to a single phosphate group ((Figure)). Ribose is a five-carbon sugar found in RNA, and AMP is one of the nucleotides in RNA. The addition of a second phosphate group to this core molecule results in the formation of adenosine diphosphate (ADP) the addition of a third phosphate group forms adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

The addition of a phosphate group to a molecule requires energy. Phosphate groups are negatively charged and thus repel one another when they are arranged in series, as they are in ADP and ATP. This repulsion makes the ADP and ATP molecules inherently unstable. The release of one or two phosphate groups from ATP, a process called dephosphorylation , releases energy.

Energy from ATP

Hydrolysis is the process of breaking complex macromolecules apart. During hydrolysis, water is split, or lysed, and the resulting hydrogen atom (H + ) and a hydroxyl group (OH – ), or hydroxide, are added to the larger molecule. The hydrolysis of ATP produces ADP, together with an inorganic phosphate ion (Pi), and the release of free energy. To carry out life processes, ATP is continuously broken down into ADP, and like a rechargeable battery, ADP is continuously regenerated into ATP by the reattachment of a third phosphate group. Water, which was broken down into its hydrogen atom and hydroxyl group (hydroxide) during ATP hydrolysis, is regenerated when a third phosphate is added to the ADP molecule, reforming ATP.

Obviously, energy must be infused into the system to regenerate ATP. Where does this energy come from? In nearly every living thing on Earth, the energy comes from the metabolism of glucose, fructose, or galactose, all isomers with the chemical formula C6H12O6 but different molecular configurations. In this way, ATP is a direct link between the limited set of exergonic pathways of glucose catabolism and the multitude of endergonic pathways that power living cells.

Phosphorylation

Recall that, in some chemical reactions, enzymes may bind to several substrates that react with each other on the enzyme, forming an intermediate complex. An intermediate complex is a temporary structure, and it allows one of the substrates (such as ATP) and reactants to more readily react with each other in reactions involving ATP, ATP is one of the substrates and ADP is a product. During an endergonic chemical reaction, ATP forms an intermediate complex with the substrate and enzyme in the reaction. This intermediate complex allows the ATP to transfer its third phosphate group, with its energy, to the substrate, a process called phosphorylation. Phosphorylation refers to the addition of the phosphate (

P). This is illustrated by the following generic reaction, in which A and B represent two different substrates:

When the intermediate complex breaks apart, the energy is used to modify the substrate and convert it into a product of the reaction. The ADP molecule and a free phosphate ion are released into the medium and are available for recycling through cell metabolism.

Substrate Phosphorylation

ATP is generated through two mechanisms during the breakdown of glucose. A few ATP molecules are generated (that is, regenerated from ADP) as a direct result of the chemical reactions that occur in the catabolic pathways. A phosphate group is removed from an intermediate reactant in the pathway, and the free energy of the reaction is used to add the third phosphate to an available ADP molecule, producing ATP ((Figure)). This very direct method of phosphorylation is called substrate-level phosphorylation .

Oxidative Phosphorylation

Most of the ATP generated during glucose catabolism, however, is derived from a much more complex process, chemiosmosis, which takes place in mitochondria ((Figure)) within a eukaryotic cell or the plasma membrane of a prokaryotic cell. Chemiosmosis , a process of ATP production in cellular metabolism, is used to generate 90 percent of the ATP made during glucose catabolism and is also the method used in the light reactions of photosynthesis to harness the energy of sunlight. The production of ATP using the process of chemiosmosis is called oxidative phosphorylation because of the involvement of oxygen in the process.

Mitochondrial Disease Physician What happens when the critical reactions of cellular respiration do not proceed correctly? This may happen in mitochondrial diseases, which are genetic disorders of metabolism. Mitochondrial disorders can arise from mutations in nuclear or mitochondrial DNA, and they result in the production of less energy than is normal in body cells. In type 2 diabetes, for instance, the oxidation efficiency of NADH is reduced, impacting oxidative phosphorylation but not the other steps of respiration. Symptoms of mitochondrial diseases can include muscle weakness, lack of coordination, stroke-like episodes, and loss of vision and hearing. Most affected people are diagnosed in childhood, although there are some adult-onset diseases. Identifying and treating mitochondrial disorders is a specialized medical field. The educational preparation for this profession requires a college education, followed by medical school with a specialization in medical genetics. Medical geneticists can be board certified by the American Board of Medical Genetics and go on to become associated with professional organizations devoted to the study of mitochondrial diseases, such as the Mitochondrial Medicine Society and the Society for Inherited Metabolic Disorders.

Section Summary

ATP functions as the energy currency for cells. It allows the cell to store energy briefly and transport it within the cell to support endergonic chemical reactions. The structure of ATP is that of an RNA nucleotide with three phosphates attached. As ATP is used for energy, a phosphate group or two are detached, and either ADP or AMP is produced. Energy derived from glucose catabolism is used to convert ADP into ATP. When ATP is used in a reaction, the third phosphate is temporarily attached to a substrate in a process called phosphorylation. The two processes of ATP regeneration that are used in conjunction with glucose catabolism are substrate-level phosphorylation and oxidative phosphorylation through the process of chemiosmosis.


7.26: ATP in Living Systems - Biology

Living systems can be studied by way of the scientific method which involves which of the following?

Using only deductive reasoning and not inductive reasoning

Using few subjects, but repeating the experiments and using controls

Using few subjects, but repeating the experiments

Using many subjects, but doing no statistical analysis

Using many subjects but having no controls

Which of the following molecules has the least amount of energy that you can use for intense physical exercise?

A chemically specifically designed to signal uncontrolled cell growth

Water since it promotes all chemical reactions

Nicotine produced in plants can be lethal to insects in that it causes a paralysis. Where does nicotine have its effect?

Nicotine receptors located in the nucleus of the cell

Nicotine receptors on the plasma membrane of brain cells

Nicotine receptors in the golgi bodies of neurons

Nicotine receptors on the mitochondria of brain cells

The aqueous (water) space between cells is which of the following?

All of these answers are correct

A hypo-osmotic solution can be defined as which of the following?

A solution separated from another by way of semipermeable membrane in which the hyposmotic solution has less electrolyes and more water than the other solution

A solution separated from another by way of semipermeable membrane in which the hyperosmotic solution has less electrolyes and more water than the other solution

A solution that is equal in concentration compared to another

A solution that is less concentrated relative to another

A solution that is more concentrated relative to another

Lactic acid in your muscles is the byproduct of which metabolic pathway?

Electron Transport System

Which of the following best describes the process of glycolysis?

A series of chemical reactions in the mitochondria that breakdown or catabolize glucose to produce ATP without oxygen

A series of chemical reactions that breakdown or catabolize protein to produce lactic acid in the presence of oxygen

A series of chemical reactions in the muscle cytoplasm that breaksdown or catabolize glucose to produce ATP without oxygen

A series of chemical reactions that produce enzymes

During oxidative phosphorylation, which of the following is phosphorylated with the assistance of ATP synthase?

In all animals who use oxidative phorphorylation to generate ATP, the ultimate electron acceptor is directly transported to all cells by way of which of the following?

After NADH is reduced at the Electron Transport system, the hydrogen ion subsequently does which of the following?

Which of the following has to exist for ATP synthase to be activated to directly produce ATP?

All of these answers are correct

Which of the following occurs when oxyhemoglobin reaches the capillaries of heart muscle?

Releases oxygen which leaves the capillary and diffuses into the cell

Absorbs oxygen from the mitochondria

Releases its oxygen which diffuses from the mitochondria to the capillary


Why should I measure/care about it?

Since Adenosine Triphosphate is present in all living and active microbial cells, it is an excellent indicator of overall microbiological content in fluids or deposits. To measure it we turn to a well known example of bioluminescence the tail of a firefly! Through a chemical reaction, ATP reacts with luciferase and light is produced. The amount of light can be quantified in a luminometer and the amount of ATP present can then be calculated. Because this reaction happens instantly, the amount of microbiological content can be quantified immediately.

Standard microbiological monitoring methods often require culturing microbes on media and waiting for them to reproduce and form visible colonies. It takes days or weeks to obtain results depending on the species, and these methods only capture <1% of the total population present.

In contrast, LuminUltra’s patented 2nd Generation ATP® Testing provides data to help you know what is happening in your system and represents a major upgrade over other microbiological tools. When combined with our myLuminUltra software, you gain a true total measurement of all microorganisms contained in your sample in just a few minutes.

Having rapid information allows you to take action at the earliest possible moment, saving time and money in the battle against microorganisms. By measuring ATP regularly, and being able to differentiate between cellular ATP inside active microorganisms and dissolved ATP released from dead cells, cause & effect relationships can be identified helping you solve microbiological challenges before it’s too late.


Biology 171

By the end of this section, you will be able to do the following:

  • Discuss the importance of electrons in the transfer of energy in living systems
  • Explain how ATP is used by cells as an energy source

Energy production within a cell involves many coordinated chemical pathways. Most of these pathways are combinations of oxidation and reduction reactions, which occur at the same time. An oxidation reaction strips an electron from an atom in a compound, and the addition of this electron to another compound is a reduction reaction. Because oxidation and reduction usually occur together, these pairs of reactions are called oxidation reduction reactions, or redox reactions .

Electrons and Energy

The removal of an electron from a molecule (oxidizing it), results in a decrease in potential energy in the oxidized compound. The electron (sometimes as part of a hydrogen atom) does not remain unbonded, however, in the cytoplasm of a cell. Rather, the electron is shifted to a second compound, reducing the second compound. The shift of an electron from one compound to another removes some potential energy from the first compound (the oxidized compound) and increases the potential energy of the second compound (the reduced compound). The transfer of electrons between molecules is important because most of the energy stored in atoms and used to fuel cell functions is in the form of high-energy electrons. The transfer of energy in the form of high-energy electrons allows the cell to transfer and use energy in an incremental fashion—in small packages rather than in a single, destructive burst. This chapter focuses on the extraction of energy from food you will see that as you track the path of the transfers, you are tracking the path of electrons moving through metabolic pathways.

Electron Carriers

In living systems, a small class of compounds functions as electron shuttles: they bind and carry high-energy electrons between compounds in biochemical pathways. The principal electron carriers we will consider are derived from the B vitamin group and are derivatives of nucleotides. These compounds can be easily reduced (that is, they accept electrons) or oxidized (they lose electrons). Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) ((Figure)) is derived from vitamin B3, niacin. NAD + is the oxidized form of the molecule NADH is the reduced form of the molecule after it has accepted two electrons and a proton (which together are the equivalent of a hydrogen atom with an extra electron). Note that if a compound has an “H” on it, it is generally reduced (e.g., NADH is the reduced form of NAD).

NAD + can accept electrons from an organic molecule according to the general equation:

When electrons are added to a compound, it is reduced. A compound that reduces another is called a reducing agent. In the above equation, RH is a reducing agent, and NAD + is reduced to NADH. When electrons are removed from a compound, it is oxidized. A compound that oxidizes another is called an oxidizing agent. In the above equation, NAD + is an oxidizing agent, and RH is oxidized to R.

Similarly, flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD + ) is derived from vitamin B2, also called riboflavin. Its reduced form is FADH2. A second variation of NAD, NADP, contains an extra phosphate group. Both NAD + and FAD + are extensively used in energy extraction from sugars, and NADP plays an important role in anabolic reactions and photosynthesis in plants.

ATP in Living Systems

A living cell cannot store significant amounts of free energy. Excess free energy would result in an increase of heat in the cell, which would result in excessive thermal motion that could damage and then destroy the cell. Rather, a cell must be able to handle that energy in a way that enables the cell to store energy safely and release it for use only as needed. Living cells accomplish this by using the compound adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is often called the “energy currency” of the cell, and, like currency, this versatile compound can be used to fill any energy need of the cell. How? It functions similarly to a rechargeable battery.

When ATP is broken down, usually by the removal of its terminal phosphate group, energy is released. The energy is used to do work by the cell, usually when the released phosphate binds to another molecule, thereby activating it. For example, in the mechanical work of muscle contraction, ATP supplies the energy to move the contractile muscle proteins. Recall the active transport work of the sodium-potassium pump in cell membranes. ATP alters the structure of the integral protein that functions as the pump, changing its affinity for sodium and potassium. In this way, the cell performs work, pumping ions against their electrochemical gradients.

ATP Structure and Function

At the heart of ATP is a molecule of adenosine monophosphate (AMP), which is composed of an adenine molecule bonded to a ribose molecule and to a single phosphate group ((Figure)). Ribose is a five-carbon sugar found in RNA, and AMP is one of the nucleotides in RNA. The addition of a second phosphate group to this core molecule results in the formation of adenosine diphosphate (ADP) the addition of a third phosphate group forms adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

The addition of a phosphate group to a molecule requires energy. Phosphate groups are negatively charged and thus repel one another when they are arranged in series, as they are in ADP and ATP. This repulsion makes the ADP and ATP molecules inherently unstable. The release of one or two phosphate groups from ATP, a process called dephosphorylation , releases energy.

Energy from ATP

Hydrolysis is the process of breaking complex macromolecules apart. During hydrolysis, water is split, or lysed, and the resulting hydrogen atom (H + ) and a hydroxyl group (OH – ), or hydroxide, are added to the larger molecule. The hydrolysis of ATP produces ADP, together with an inorganic phosphate ion (Pi), and the release of free energy. To carry out life processes, ATP is continuously broken down into ADP, and like a rechargeable battery, ADP is continuously regenerated into ATP by the reattachment of a third phosphate group. Water, which was broken down into its hydrogen atom and hydroxyl group (hydroxide) during ATP hydrolysis, is regenerated when a third phosphate is added to the ADP molecule, reforming ATP.

Obviously, energy must be infused into the system to regenerate ATP. Where does this energy come from? In nearly every living thing on Earth, the energy comes from the metabolism of glucose, fructose, or galactose, all isomers with the chemical formula C6H12O6 but different molecular configurations. In this way, ATP is a direct link between the limited set of exergonic pathways of glucose catabolism and the multitude of endergonic pathways that power living cells.

Phosphorylation

Recall that, in some chemical reactions, enzymes may bind to several substrates that react with each other on the enzyme, forming an intermediate complex. An intermediate complex is a temporary structure, and it allows one of the substrates (such as ATP) and reactants to more readily react with each other in reactions involving ATP, ATP is one of the substrates and ADP is a product. During an endergonic chemical reaction, ATP forms an intermediate complex with the substrate and enzyme in the reaction. This intermediate complex allows the ATP to transfer its third phosphate group, with its energy, to the substrate, a process called phosphorylation. Phosphorylation refers to the addition of the phosphate (

P). This is illustrated by the following generic reaction, in which A and B represent two different substrates:

When the intermediate complex breaks apart, the energy is used to modify the substrate and convert it into a product of the reaction. The ADP molecule and a free phosphate ion are released into the medium and are available for recycling through cell metabolism.

Substrate Phosphorylation

ATP is generated through two mechanisms during the breakdown of glucose. A few ATP molecules are generated (that is, regenerated from ADP) as a direct result of the chemical reactions that occur in the catabolic pathways. A phosphate group is removed from an intermediate reactant in the pathway, and the free energy of the reaction is used to add the third phosphate to an available ADP molecule, producing ATP ((Figure)). This very direct method of phosphorylation is called substrate-level phosphorylation .

Oxidative Phosphorylation

Most of the ATP generated during glucose catabolism, however, is derived from a much more complex process, chemiosmosis, which takes place in mitochondria ((Figure)) within a eukaryotic cell or the plasma membrane of a prokaryotic cell. Chemiosmosis , a process of ATP production in cellular metabolism, is used to generate 90 percent of the ATP made during glucose catabolism and is also the method used in the light reactions of photosynthesis to harness the energy of sunlight. The production of ATP using the process of chemiosmosis is called oxidative phosphorylation because of the involvement of oxygen in the process.

Mitochondrial Disease Physician What happens when the critical reactions of cellular respiration do not proceed correctly? This may happen in mitochondrial diseases, which are genetic disorders of metabolism. Mitochondrial disorders can arise from mutations in nuclear or mitochondrial DNA, and they result in the production of less energy than is normal in body cells. In type 2 diabetes, for instance, the oxidation efficiency of NADH is reduced, impacting oxidative phosphorylation but not the other steps of respiration. Symptoms of mitochondrial diseases can include muscle weakness, lack of coordination, stroke-like episodes, and loss of vision and hearing. Most affected people are diagnosed in childhood, although there are some adult-onset diseases. Identifying and treating mitochondrial disorders is a specialized medical field. The educational preparation for this profession requires a college education, followed by medical school with a specialization in medical genetics. Medical geneticists can be board certified by the American Board of Medical Genetics and go on to become associated with professional organizations devoted to the study of mitochondrial diseases, such as the Mitochondrial Medicine Society and the Society for Inherited Metabolic Disorders.

Section Summary

ATP functions as the energy currency for cells. It allows the cell to store energy briefly and transport it within the cell to support endergonic chemical reactions. The structure of ATP is that of an RNA nucleotide with three phosphates attached. As ATP is used for energy, a phosphate group or two are detached, and either ADP or AMP is produced. Energy derived from glucose catabolism is used to convert ADP into ATP. When ATP is used in a reaction, the third phosphate is temporarily attached to a substrate in a process called phosphorylation. The two processes of ATP regeneration that are used in conjunction with glucose catabolism are substrate-level phosphorylation and oxidative phosphorylation through the process of chemiosmosis.

Free Response

Why is it beneficial for cells to use ATP rather than energy directly from the bonds of carbohydrates? What are the greatest drawbacks to harnessing energy directly from the bonds of several different compounds?

ATP provides the cell with a way to handle energy in an efficient manner. The molecule can be charged, stored, and used as needed. Moreover, the energy from hydrolyzing ATP is delivered as a consistent amount. Harvesting energy from the bonds of several different compounds would result in energy deliveries of different quantities.

Glossary


Visualizing ATP Dynamics in Live Mice

Analysis of the dynamics of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is vital to quantitatively define the actual roles of ATP in biological activities. Here, we applied a genetically encoded Förster resonance energy transfer biosensor “GO-ATeam” and created a transgenic mouse model that allows systemic ATP levels to be quantitatively, sensitively, noninvasively, and spatiotemporally measured under physiological and pathological conditions. We used this model to readily conduct intravital imaging of ATP dynamics under three different conditions: during exercise, in all organs and cells during myocardial infarction progression and in response to the application of cardiotoxic drugs. These findings provide compelling evidence that the GO-ATeam mouse model is a powerful tool to investigate the multifarious functions of cellular ATP in vivo with unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution in real-time. This will inform predictions of molecular and morphological responses to perturbations of ATP levels, as well as the elucidation of physiological mechanisms that control ATP homeostasis.

One Sentence Summary Intravital real-time imaging of ATP dynamics in multiple organs using GO-ATeam mice, can be used to quantitatively, sensitively, noninvasively, and spatiotemporally measure systemic ATP levels and provide a platform for preclinical pharmacological studies.