The role of ATP in metabolism

The coenzyme adenosine triphosphate (ATP) acts as the central link between energy-yielding metabolic pathways and energy expenditure on physical and chemical work. The oxidation of metabolic fuels is linked to the phosphorylation of adenosine diphosphate (ADP) to adenosine triphosphate (ATP), while the expenditure of metabolic energy for the synthesis of body constituents, transport of compounds across cell membranes and the contraction of muscle results overall in the hydrolysis of ATP to yield ADP and phosphate ions. The total body content of ATP + ADP is under 350 mmol (about 10 g), but the amount of ATP synthesized and used each day is about 100 mol — about 70 kg, an amount equal to body weight.

After reading this chapter you should be able to:

  • explain how endothermic reactions can be linked to the overall hydrolysis of ATP to ADP and phosphate;
  • describe how compounds can be transported across cell membranes against a concentration gradient and explain the roles of ATP and proton gradients in active transport;
  • describe the role of ATP in muscle contraction and the role of creatine phosphate as a phosphagen;
  • describe the structure and functions of the mitochondrion and explain the processes involved in the mitochondrial electron transport chain and oxidative phosphorylation, explain how substrate oxidation is regulated by the availability of ADP and explain how respiratory poisons and uncouplers act.
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