Q:

What is the sodium-potassium pump?

A:

Quick Answer

The sodium-potassium pump is an essential cellular membrane protein that functions by pumping out three sodium ions and taking in two potassium ions. This mechanism preserves the electrochemical gradient formed from the varying concentrations of sodium and potassium ions within the cell and its exterior.

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Full Answer

The sodium-potassium pump, also referred to as Na,K-ATPase, is involved in active transport. This process requires energy to move the sodium and potassium ions into and out of the cell. Adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, is the high-energy carrying molecule that is the primary source of this requisite energy. When ATP undergoes hydrolysis, the energy released from its bonds alters the shape and structure of the sodium-potassium pump, enabling the pump to move the sodium and potassium ions across cellular membranes.

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