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ATP

ATP Synthase
 

Biological energy conversion
In the biological world, energy released by the oxidation (controlled burning) of carbohydrates and fats, and energy harvested by photosynthesis in green plants, are channelled into making the molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is a high energy compound considered to be the universal currency of biological energy. On reaction of ATP with water under closely controlled conditions, a high energy bond is ruptured releasing energy, and producing adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and phosphate.

This release of energy is usually coupled to other biological processes, to do work, for example, in the contraction of muscle and in the synthesis of the essential macromolecules of life, nucleic acids and proteins. The ATP molecule is then remade from the ADP and phosphate with further input of energy.
The synthesis of ATP is a central process in human nutrition. The energy in the food we ingest is converted into ATP. Each day every one of us of makes, breaks down and remakes in the mitochondria in our bodies an amount of ATP that is about the same as our body weights. The energy in the ATP molecule powers all biological processes. Thus, the synthesis of ATP is essential for life.
 
The ATP synthase
In eubacteria, chloroplasts and mitochondria, the synthesis of ATP is carried out by a molecular machine known as ATP synthase. Our aim is to understand the workings of this machine by establishing the details of its structure and by carrying out functional studies by biochemical and genetic methods. We are concentrating mainly on the enzyme from the mitochondria of bovine hearts and from baker's yeast. The mitochondrial enzyme has many features in its structure and mechanism in common with the bacterial and chloroplast enzymes. It sits in the inner membranes of the organelle, where it uses the transmembrane proton motive force (pmf) generated by the oxidation of nutrients Arrangement of subunits in mitochondrial ATP synthase

The enzyme has two major structural parts known as F1 and Fo.,
Generation of rotation in Fo

This approach has the advantage that we do not need to grow crystals, but the method is not yet sufficiently developed to allow us to get structures that are sufficiently accurate to allow us to understand the functions of parts of the enzyme. So we are also following the approach of solving individual subunits of the enzyme by either X-ray crystallography or by nuclear magnetic resonance. The accurate structures of the individual subunits can then be built into the single particle image to complete a three dimensional molecular jigsaw puzzle.

ATP - Nature's Energy Store
All living things, plants and animals, require a continual supply of energy in order to function. The energy is used for all the processes which keep the organism alive. Some of these processes occur continually, such as the metabolism of foods, the synthesis of large, biologically important molecules, e.g. proteins and DNA, and the transport of molecules and ions throughout the organism. Other processes occur only at certain times, such as muscle contraction and other cellular movements. Animals obtain their energy by oxidation of foods, plants do so by trapping the sunlight using chlorophyll. However, before the energy can be used, it is first transformed into a form which the organism can handle easily. This special carrier of energy is the molecule adenosine triphosphate, or ATP.