Adenosine Triphosphate

ATP belongs to a class of organic molecules known as nucleotides. It has an important role in the energy reactions in the cell. The term "triphosphate" indicates that there are three phosphate groups attached to the base molecule. The last two of these phosphates are held by a special kind of chemical bond known as a high-energy bond. It takes a greater amount of energy to form one of these bonds than to form the normal kinds of bonds that hold the atoms of other molecules together. When this bond is broken, a large amount of energy is released and is available to the cell to do work. Examples of such work are production of heat, synthesis of complex molecules, and movement of molecules across a membrane. When energy is required in a cell, the third phosphate of ATP is released. While the third phosphate group is routinely split off to release energy, the second one is rarely split off in cellular reactions. The cell must maintain a supply of ATP by means of the reverse reaction. The energy required for this reaction may come from fermentation when oxygen is unavailable. When oxygen is available, other components of cellular respiration are used, which include the Krebs cycle and electron transport.

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