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What is ATP and what is its role in the cell?

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Quick Answer

Adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, is the energy currency of life, the way that individual cells store and use chemical energy. Any food or other source of energy a cell takes in is converted to ATP, in which form the mechanisms of the cell can easily use it. It does this by shedding a phosphate group, becoming adenosine diphosphate, or ADP, a highly energetic reaction that powers all of a cell's molecular machinery.

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What is ATP and what is its role in the cell?
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Adenosine triphosphate's chemical structure contains a relatively complex carbon-based molecule, including cyclic carbon subgroups, but the main function comes from the phosphate groups, or rather, the last phosphate group, which is the one shed when ATP provides energy to the cell. The molecule contains three phosphate groups in a chain. Each phosphate is bonded to four oxygen atoms. Three of these oxygen atoms are shared either by two phosphates or the first phosphate and the carbon-based group.

In animals and other eukaryotic heterotrophs, organelles known as mitochondria use the energy from food to convert depleted adenosine diphosphate back into adenosine triphosphate. This process largely uses glucose in a process known as the Krebs cycle. In plants, chloroplasts, the organelles responsible for converting light, water and carbon dioxide into carbohydrates, also change ADP into ATP.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Why is ATP so important?

    A:

    Adenosine triphosphate is the molecule that provides energy to cells for almost all processes that need energy. The energy is generated by removing phosphate groups from the molecule.

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  • Q:

    Why is ATP an important molecule in metabolism?

    A:

    Adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, is the transport molecule for chemical energy within cells. The energy stored in the phosphate bonds contained in ATP is used for a wide variety of metabolic functions, including muscle contraction, molecular transport across cell membranes, and the creation of larger molecules from smaller units.

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  • Q:

    How is ATP formed?

    A:

    Adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, is formed via photosynthesis and cellular respiration. ATP is the high-energy carrying molecule that drives vital biological functions for an organism to survive.

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  • Q:

    What is an ATP molecule composed of?

    A:

    ATP, or Adenosine triphosphate, is a molecule that carries energy and is composed of a base, which in this case is adenine, a ribose sugar and three phosphate groups. The three phosphate groups, which are the alpha, beta and gamma phosphates, are connected to the five-carbon ribose sugar.

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