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ATP - Adenosine Triphosphate

ATP - Adenosine Triphosphate

All living things need an appropriate level of energy for survival. And in such cases, ATP, an essential biological compound, comes into the role. ATP stands for Adenosine Triphosphate, and most cellular activities like nerve pulse propagation, condensate dissolution, muscle contraction and chemical synthesis are carried out by the energy provided by the Adenosine Triphosphate upon the hydrolysis with other biological compounds. All living cells use ATP as their major source of energy. Oxygen, Carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, and phosphorus are all elements that makeup ATP. It is easily hydrolyzed to release a substantial quantity of energy due to unstable, high-energy bonds.

What Does ATP Do?

Adenosine triphosphate performs the following three main activities in the body as it makes the chemicals move, such as sodium, calcium, and potassium, throughout the cell membranes. ATP is also required for the production of chemical molecules such as protein and cholesterol. And as we discussed earlier, it also acts as a source of energy for physical activity, such as muscular contraction.

Structure of ATP

ATP - Adenosine Triphosphate

We can get a brief idea of the structure of the Adenosine triphosphate with its name only. Adenosine comprises the two elements, i.e. Adenine and Ribose sugar, while triphosphate means the three serially bonded phosphate groups. All three elements Adenine, Ribose, and the three amount of phosphate, make up the ATP. The serially bonded phosphate makes a high energy bond and plays a vital role in hydrolysis.

Terms Need To Understand before Moving Further

Along with ATP, there will be a few terms to which we will come across while discussing it's working. So let's have a look at those terms.

  • Phosphoanhydride bonds: A high-energy bond formed by the three phosphate groups with the Adenine and Ribose sugar to form the final Adenosine Triphosphate until the Phosphoanhydride bonds do not gets broken. It means it has stored a significant amount of energy.
  • Hydrolysis: Hydrolysis is a metabolic activity in which molecular energy is released by breaking the high-energy phosphoanhydride bonds of adenosine triphosphate. Further hydrolysis can take place with the ADP and AMP when it is needed to release more energy.
  • ADP: ADP, Adenosine Diphosphate, is formed after the hydrolysis of the third phosphate .i.e. the breakage of one Phosphoanhydride bond from ATP structure. It resulted in the loss of energy in some activities.
  • AMP: AMP, Adenosine Monophosphate, at this stage energy remains at its lowest level and is formed upon the hydrolysis of ADP, where the remaining one phosphoanhydride bond disappears.

Working of ATP

As we discussed above, ATP is responsible for all the activities that consume energy. It stores and releases energy upon a biological reaction. It's a cyclic process where energy is regained based on requirement and stored for future activities where energy gets required once released.

The high energy content of an ATP molecule is due to its two high-energy phosphate bonds termed phosphoanhydride bonds. During the hydrolysis of ATP's third phosphate group, Adenosine Diphosphate (ADP) and inorganic phosphate, as well as a major quantity of energy, is released.

ATP - Adenosine Triphosphate

ADP can absorb the energy and recover the group from manufacturing an ATP molecule again to ensure a steady ATP concentration. Similarly, when one phosphate is taken from ADP by the further process of hydrolysis to produce adenosine monophosphate, energy is released. The energy stored in AMP can then be regenerated into ADP or ATP by creating new phosphoanhydride bonds. ADP, AMP, and ATP are constantly metabolized throughout the cell as they participate in biological activities to support the cell's life.

Role of ATP

ATP's primary function is to provide energy. The methods it delivers energy are listed below.

  1. An energy source.
  2. The energy released by an ATP molecule is roughly 30kJ (mol-1).
  3. A little amount of energy from an ATP molecule is released to avoid cell disruption.
  4. The energy released is used by the cell for metabolism, and other ATP-dependent processes include active transport, muscular contraction, and glycolysis.

Methods of Producing ATP

Generally, by four methods, ATP can be produced to carry out the basic functionality of cells. Let's have a brief of those.

  1. Aerobic Respiration: ATP can be formed by the method of aerobic respiration. It uses glucose to produce Adenosine Triphosphate, and oxygen is necessary for the process.
  2. Beta Oxidation: The conversion of lipids( fat in the blood ) to energy is known as beta-oxidation, and this process generates ATP. Beta oxidation is also carried out in the mitochondria and is linked to converting ATP to AMP when energy is lost in a huge amount.
  3. Glycolysis:Glycolysis is some ATP generation found in almost all living things. In this anaerobic glucose catabolism process, a glucose molecule is converted into two pyruvic acids, and also two ATP molecules are produced. Following that, the body's many functions use these molecules as energy. The cytosol of eukaryotic organisms, or creatures with a membrane-bound nucleus, is where glycolysis takes place.
  4. Oxidative Phosphorylation: Oxidative phosphorylation is a key generator of ATP in organisms, accounting for 26 of the 30 molecules of ATP created from glucose. When electrons move from substances known as NADH or FADH to oxygen, ATP is generated.


In this article, we discussed ATP, i.e. Adenosine Triphosphate, In brief. We went through the main functionality along with its structure. We came to know when the high energy bond (i.e. Phosphoanhydride bonds) of the triphosphate breaks, the energy gets released to fulfil the requirement of energy during the cellular activities. Also, ATP can store the energy by regaining the high energy bond for future requirements.

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