Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP)
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a nucleoside triphosphate used in cells as a coenzyme, often called the "molecular unit of currency" of intracellular energy transfer.
ATP transports chemical energy within cells for metabolism. It is one of the end products of photophosphorylation, cellular respiration, and fermentation and used by enzymes and structural proteins in many cellular processes, including biosynthetic reactions, motility, and cell division. One molecule of ATP contains three phosphate groups, and it is produced by a wide variety of enzymes, including ATP synthase, from adenosine diphosphate (ADP) or adenosine monophosphate (AMP) and various phosphate group donors. Substrate-level phosphorylation, oxidative phosphorylation in cellular respiration, and photophosphorylation in photosynthesisare three major mechanisms of ATP biosynthesis.
Metabolic processes that use ATP as an energy source convert it back into its precursors. ATP is therefore continuously recycled in organisms: the human body, which on average contains only 250 grams (8.8 oz) of ATP, turns over its own body weight equivalent in ATP each day.
ATP is used as a substrate in signal transduction pathways by kinases that phosphorylate proteins and lipids. It is also used by adenylate cyclase, which uses ATP to produce the second messenger molecule cyclic AMP. The ratio between ATP and AMP is used as a way for a cell to sense how much energy is available and control the metabolic pathways that produce and consume ATP. Apart from its roles in signaling and energy metabolism, ATP is also incorporated into nucleic acids by polymerases in the process of transcription. ATP is the neurotransmitter believed to signal the sense of taste.
The structure of this molecule consists of a purine base (adenine) attached to the 1' carbon atom of a pentose sugar (ribose). Three phosphate groups are attached at the 5' carbon atom of the pentose sugar. It is the addition and removal of these phosphate groups that inter-convert ATP, ADP and AMP. When ATP is used in DNA synthesis, the ribose sugar is first converted to deoxyribose by ribonucleotide reductase.
ATP was discovered in 1929 by Karl Lohmann, Fiske and Y. Subbarow of Harvard Medical School but its correct structure was not determined until some years later. It was proposed to be the main energy transfer molecule in the cell by Fritz Albert Lipmann in 1941, that is, being the intermediary molecule between energy-yielding (exergonic) and energy-requiring (endergonic) reactions. It was first artificially synthesized byAlexander Todd in 1948.
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is considered by biologists to be the energy currency of life. It is the high-energy molecule that stores the energy we need to do just about everything we do. It is present in the cytoplasm and nucleoplasm of every cell, and essentially all the physiological mechanisms that require energy for operation obtain it directly from the stored ATP. (Guyton) As food in the cells is gradually oxidized, the released energy is used to re-form the ATP so that the cell always maintains a supply of this essential molecule. Karp quotes an estimate that more than 2 x 1026 molecules or >160kg of ATP is formed in the human body daily! ATP is remarkable for its ability to enter into many coupled reactions, both those to food to extract energy and with the reactions in other physiological processes to provide energy to them. In animal systems, the ATP is synthesized in the tiny energy factories called mitochondria by a process called glycolysis.
The structure of ATP has an ordered carbon compound as a backbone, but the part that is really critical is the phosphorous part - the triphosphate. Three phosphorous groups are connected by oxygens to each other, and there are also side oxygens connected to the phosphorous atoms. Under the normal conditions in the body, each of these oxygens has a negative charge, and as you know, electrons want to be with protons - the negative charges repel each other. These bunched up negative charges want to escape - to get away from each other, so there is a lot of potential energy here.
If you remove just one of these phosphate groups from the end, so that there are just two phosphate groups, the molecule is much happier. This conversion from ATP to ADP is an extremely crucial reaction for the supplying of energy for life processes. Just the cutting of one bond with the accompanying rearrangement is sufficient to liberate about 7.3 kilocalories per mole = 30.6 kJ/mol. This is about the same as the energy in a single peanut.
Living things can use ATP like a battery. The ATP can power needed reactions by losing one of its phosphorous groups to form ADP, but you can use food energy in the mitochondria to convert the ADP back to ATP so that the energy is again available to do needed work. In plants, sunlight energy can be used to convert the less active compound back to the highly energetic form. For animals, you use the energy from your high energy storage molecules to do what you need to do to keep yourself alive, and then you "recharge" them to put them back in the high energy state. The oxidation of glucose operates in a cycle called the TCA cycle or Krebs cycle in eukaryotic cells to provide energy for the conversion of ADP to ATP.