This internship has done a great job of reminding me of the many concepts I learned about in high school biology and/or chemistry. More importantly, it made me realize that I don’t remember much from those classes, or I just never learned much (it’s probably some of both). High on the frequently mentioned list is ATP, short for adenosine triphosphate. All I essentially have to know about ATP for my research at this time is that ATP is synonymous with energy for cells and cellular processes. Even so, it is always nice to know a little more about what’s going on behind the scenes with my research.
Adenosine, when it is by itself, is a well ordered carbon compound as well as a medicine. Phosphates are the bases which give rise to electrically neutral salts. Adenosine triphosphate is, according to hyperphysics, “the energy currency of life. It is the high-energy molecule that stores the energy we need to do just about everything we do”. Based on the independent definitions of adenosine and phosphates, it didn’t immediately jump out at me why ATP is so energy rich and what makes it so good at getting energy between cells.
Looking at the attached picture, you’ll notice that the “triphosphate” bit of the ATP molecule is surrounded by oxygen, and more importantly oxygen with a net negative electric charge. Like charges repel, so these oxygens give the ATP molecule an exceptional amount of potential energy. By removing one of those oxygens te energy our bodies need is released, and luckily we have mitochondria to use energy from food towards reconstructing ATP. Apparently somewhere around 350 pounds of ATP are created in a human body every day. You’d think I’d be less lazy all the time!