ATP synthase

Human ATP synthase

ATP synthase

Human ATP synthase

ATP synthase is a critical enzyme that is found in all living organisms. It plays a key role in the process of cellular respiration, where it creates adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary molecule used by cells to store and transfer energy.

ATP synthase is an impressive molecular machine. It’s embedded within the inner membrane of mitochondria in eukaryotic cells, and in the cell membrane of prokaryotic cells. In the process of oxidative phosphorylation, protons (H+) flow down their electrochemical gradient from the intermembrane space into the mitochondrial matrix (in eukaryotes), or from the outside to the inside of the cell (in prokaryotes). This flow of protons is known as chemiosmosis.

ATP synthase harnesses the energy from this proton gradient to catalyze the reaction between ADP (adenosine diphosphate) and inorganic phosphate (Pi), forming ATP. The energy stored in ATP can then be used to drive other cellular processes that require energy, such as the synthesis of proteins or the transport of molecules across cell membranes.

Structurally, ATP synthase consists of two main parts: F1 and F0. The F1 part is inside the mitochondrion (or inside the prokaryotic cell) where it carries out the synthesis of ATP, and the F0 part forms a channel that allows protons to cross the membrane. The flow of protons through F0 drives the rotation of part of the F1 structure, which in turn drives the synthesis of ATP.

Overall, ATP synthase is a remarkable biological machine that plays a fundamental role in cellular energy metabolism.

ATP synthase is an impressive molecular machine. It’s embedded within the inner membrane of mitochondria in eukaryotic cells, and in the cell membrane of prokaryotic cells. In the process of oxidative phosphorylation, protons (H+) flow down their electrochemical gradient from the intermembrane space into the mitochondrial matrix (in eukaryotes), or from the outside to the inside of the cell (in prokaryotes). This flow of protons is known as chemiosmosis.

ATP synthase harnesses the energy from this proton gradient to catalyze the reaction between ADP (adenosine diphosphate) and inorganic phosphate (Pi), forming ATP. The energy stored in ATP can then be used to drive other cellular processes that require energy, such as the synthesis of proteins or the transport of molecules across cell membranes.

Structurally, ATP synthase consists of two main parts: F1 and F0. The F1 part is inside the mitochondrion (or inside the prokaryotic cell) where it carries out the synthesis of ATP, and the F0 part forms a channel that allows protons to cross the membrane. The flow of protons through F0 drives the rotation of part of the F1 structure, which in turn drives the synthesis of ATP.

Overall, ATP synthase is a remarkable biological machine that plays a fundamental role in cellular energy metabolism.

References

  • Lai, Yuezheng, Yuying Zhang, Shan Zhou, Jinxu Xu, Zhanqiang Du, Ziyan Feng, Long Yu et al. Structure of the human ATP synthase. Molecular Cell 83, no. 12: 2137-2147. 2023.

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