• Tuesday April 7,2020


We explain what ATP is, what it is for and how this molecule is produced. In addition, what is the ATP cycle and oxidative phosphorylation.

The ATP molecule was discovered by German biochemist Karl Lohmann in 1929.
  1. What is the ATP?

In biochemistry, the acronym ATP designates the adenosine triphosphate or adenosine triphosphate, an organic molecule of the nucleotide type, essential for obtaining energy. Chemistry. ATP is the main source of energy for most of the cellular processes and functions of the human body and other living things.

The name of ATP comes from the molecular composition of this coenzyme, from a nitrogen base (known as adenine) linked to the carbon atom of a pentose sugar molecule (also Called ribose) and in turn with three phosphate ions bonded in another carbon atom. All this is summarized in the molecular formula of C10H16N5O13P3 .

The ATP molecule was discovered by the German biochemist Karl Lohmann in 1929, and its functioning and importance in the different energy transfer processes of the recent cell were recorded. In 1941, thanks to the studies of the German-American biochemist Fritz Albert Lipmann.

See also: Metabolism.

  1. What is the purpose of ATP?

The ATP is a useful molecule to momentarily contain the chemical energy released during the metabolic processes of food breakdown, and release it again when necessary to boost the various biological processes of the body, such as cell transport, promote reactions that consume energy or even to carry out mechanical actions of the body, such as walking.

It must be said that ATP does not serve to store chemical energy, as is the case with glucoses or fat; It serves as a transport to the cellular regions where it is needed . Thus, when an energy injection is required, ATP is generated and disposed of as needed, since it is very soluble in water, through the process known as hydrolysis, and when dissolved it releases a large amount of energy in the form of phosphates and other useful molecules.

  1. How is ATP produced?

To synthesize ATP it is necessary to release chemical energy stored in glucose.

ATP is synthesized through cellular respiration, specifically through the Krebs cycle, which is carried out in the mitochondria of the cell. For this, chemical energy stored in glucose, proteins and fats is released, through an oxidation process that releases CO2 and energy in the form of ATP. Each of these nutrients from the individual's diet has different metabolic pathways, but they converge on a common metabolite: acetyl-CoA, which starts the Krebs Cycle and allows the process of obtaining chemical energy to converge, since all The cells consume their energy in the form of ATP.

As said before, ATP cannot be stored in its natural state, but as part of more complex compounds, such as glycogen (where glucose is obtained and oxidation of this, in turn, ATP) in animals or Starch in plants. Similarly, it can be stored in the form of animal fat, through the synthesis of fatty acids.

  1. ATP cycle

The ATP Cycle involves various stages of chemical transformation, the most important being known as the Krebs Cycle (also the Citric Acid Cycle or the Tricarboxylic Acid Cycle). It is a fundamental process that occurs in the matrix of cellular mitochondria, and that consists of a succession of chemical reactions that aims to release the chemical energy contained in Acetyl-CoA obtained from the processing of the different nutritional nutrients of being alive, as well as obtaining precursors of other amino acids necessary for other biochemical reactions.

This cycle is part of a much larger process that is the oxidation of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins, being its intermediate stage: after the formation of Acetyl-CoA with the carbons of these organic compounds, and prior to oxidative phosphorylation where the "ATP" is assembled by an enzyme called ATP synthetase.

The Krebs Cycle operates thanks to 8 different enzymes that completely oxidize Acetyl-CoA and release two different molecules from each oxidized molecule: CO2 (carbon dioxide) and H2O (water). This occurs when the Acetyl-CoA is removed from carbon atoms that come together with oxaloacetate to form citrate or citric acid (with six carbons), which in turn undergoes a series of transformations that will successively cause isocitrate, ketoglutarate, succinyl-CoA, succinate, fumarate, malate and oxaloacetate again, producing on the way the material from which various ATP molecules will then be obtained.

  1. Oxidative phosphorylation

The NADH and FADH2 molecules are able to donate electrons in the Krebs cycle.

This is the last stage of the nutrient utilization circuit (catabolism) that results in the production of ATP. It occurs in the cells and is the closure of cellular respiration, after glycolysis and the Krebs cycle. In this, about 38 ATP glucose are obtained for each glucose molecule, thanks to the NADH and FADH2 molecules that were charged during the Krebs cycle and can donate electrons.

This process operates on the basis of two opposing reactions : one that releases energy and another that uses that energy released to produce ATP molecules, thanks to the intervention of ATP synthetase, the enzyme responsible for building energy molecules, adding protons and a phosphate molecule to an ADP molecule (adenosine diphosphate), to obtain water and ATP.

  1. Importance of ATP

ATP is a fundamental molecule for the vital processes of living organisms, as a transmitter of chemical energy for the synthesis of complex and fundamental macromolecules, such as those of DNA, RNA or for the synthesis of proteins that occurs within the cell. That is, the ATP provides a load of energy necessary for certain reactions that take place in the body.

This is explained because it has energy-rich bonds, which can be dissolved in water by the following reaction:

ATP + H2O = ADP (Adenos n Diphosphate) + P + Energy

ATP is key for the transport of macromolecules through the plasma membrane (exocytosis and cellular endocytosis) and also for the synaptic communication between neurons., so that its continuous synthesis is essential, from the glucose obtained from food. Such is its importance for life, that the intake of some toxic elements that inhibit ATP processes, such as arsenic or cyanide, is lethal and causes death in a fulminating way.

Interesting Articles

Cost accounting

Cost accounting

We explain what cost accounting is and what it should take into account. In addition, why cost accounting is so important. When performing cost accounting, administrative and managerial work is evaluated. What is cost accounting? Cost accounting offers us real and concrete information on all the costs and expenses that a company has to produce



We explain to you what the chromosomes are and how their structure is composed. In addition, its main functions and types of chromosomes. In chromosomes, most of the genetic information of an individual resides. What are the chromosomes? Chromosomes are called highly organized structures inside the biological cells , composed of DNA and other proteins, and where most of the gene information resides

Status  Quo

Status Quo

We explain what the status quo and the origin of the term. In addition, its different meanings and what it refers to. This term refers to the current situation of a given moment. What s el status quo? Statu quo, pronounced commonly and status c o (adding ), is a term from the Latin It is used as a synonym for the state of affairs at a given time



We explain what are the steppes and what is the fauna and flora of this biome. In addition, how is its climate and its relationship with the prairie. The steppes house forms of plant life of small size and thickness. What are the steppes? A biome (ecological zone or biological area) terrestrial, far from the seas and flat, is known as steppe, whose dry soils due to low rainfall are rich in minerals and poor in matter organic, being able to house forms of plant life of very small size and thickness



We explain what inertia is and what types exist. Newton's principle of inertia and everyday examples where inertia is experienced. The seat belt overcomes the inertia of the passengers when braking or crashing. What is inertia? The resistance that bodies oppose to modify their state of motion or stillness is called in physical inertia, either to alter their speed, their course or to stop; although the term also applies to the modifications of your physical state



We explain to you what biochemistry is, its history and the importance of this science. In addition, the branches that compose it and what a biochemist does. Biochemistry studies the material composition of living beings. What is the biochemical? The biochemistry is the chemistry of life, that is, the branch of science that is interested in the material composition of living beings