Processes That Require ATP

••• Jeremy_Hogan/iStock/GettyImages

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is an organic molecule. It's involved in many important cell processes. ATP chemical reactions are essential because they provide the energy for biological life. For example, your mitochondrial cells can make ATP. Read on to learn more about the processes that require ATP.

Active Transport and ATP

There are four different types of proteins found in cell membranes that can transport molecules across the membrane known as P-class pumps. In order for active transport to occur, you need ATP. Such specific pumps include sodium-potassium pumps and calcium pumps. Molecular ions will bind to the main site on the protein, and then an ATP will bind to a secondary site in order for movement into and out of the cell. If there's no ATP, then the molecular ions can't go where they're needed.

Anabolic Reactions and ATP

Anabolic reactions refer to reactions in which molecules, such as fats, lipids carbohydrates and proteins, get made. In order to build new molecules, you need energy to form molecular bonds. When one of the phosphates on the triphosphate of the molecule gets cleaved off, this releases energy that was needed to form the phosphate bond. Therefore, ATP turns into ADP or adenosine diphosphate.

Bioluminescence and ATP

Bioluminescence occurs when living creatures, such as fireflies, fungi, glow worms, fish, squid and some crustaceans, can emit light. This process can't occur unless ATP is present as an energy source. Think of ATP like the battery for your light bulb. The bigger the battery the brighter the light, and the more ATP the brighter the bioluminescence. In fact, bioluminescence is frequently used as a way to measure the amount of ATP in different materials. Chemical companies produce special kits with designs based on the bioluminescent reaction.

The Source of ATP: Cellular Respiration

Cellular respiration is the process where energy gets made from glucose. The first step of cellular respiration, changing glucose to pyruvate, produces two ATP. If oxygen is present then the pyruvate molecule proceeds through aerobic respiration and produces 34 additional ATP molecules. If there's no oxygen present, then anaerobic respiration occurs, and no additional ATP is produced. Cells in the human body use aerobic respiration to produce energy.


About the Author

Liz Tomas began writing professionally in 2004. Her work has appeared in the "American Journal of Enology and Viticulture," "BMC Genomics" and "PLoS Biology." She holds a Master of Science in food science from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry from the University of New Hampshire. She is pursuing her Ph.D. in oenology at Lincoln University.