What is Adenosine triphosphate (ATP)?

ATP is not a storage molecule of chemical energy. That is the job of carbohydrates like glycogen and fats.

When energy is required by the cell it converts from storage molecules to ATP.

ATP acts as a shuttle and delivers energy to cells where it is needed.

The enzyme ATP synthase is responsible for producing most of the ATP found in cells. It converts ADP to phosphate into ATP.

The membrane of the cellular structures known as mitochondria is where ATP synthase can be found. In plant cells, it is also found in chloroplasts.

Fritz Albert Lipmann, Herman Kalckar and others discovered the central role of ATP for energy metabolism in 1941.

ATP is a nucleotide which consists of three major structures: the nitrogenous base, adenine, and the sugar, ribose. It also has a chain of three phosphate group that are bound to ribose.

The bonds between phosphates contain energy and are released when they break. This is done by adding a water molecule to the mixture (a process known as hydrolysis).

ATP usually only removes the outer phosphate to produce energy. When this happens, ATP is transformed to adenosine triphosphate (ADP), which is a form of the nucleotide with only two phosphates.

You can isolate salts of ATP as colorless solids.


In the absence of catalysts, ATP is stable at pH 6.8 to 7.4.


It rapidly hydrolyses to ADP or phosphate at higher pH levels.

The P-O-P bonds are often referred to in biochemical reactions as high-energy bonds.



ATP Production

All cells in the body are responsible for creating ATP. This begins with glucose being digested by the intestines. The glucose is then taken up by the cells and converted into pyruvate. It then travels to mitochondria in the cells. This is where ATP is ultimately produced.