Adenosine Tri-phosphate

Adenosine triphosphate molecule

Adenosine Tri-phosphate is the organic compound which is the “Coin of Energy” that gives energy for many biochemical cellular processes. ATP is a type of chemical energy which produces by the breaking down of chemical bonds in the ATP molecule or breakdown of a phosphate group. All living cells need energy for the cellular respiration and all the cellular processes etc. to perform a task, which is in the form of ATP.

Content: Adenosine Tri-phosphate

  1. Definition
  2. History
  3. Features
  4. Structure
  5. ATP-cycle

Definition of Adenosine Tri-phosphate

Adenosine triphosphate is the organic molecule which acts as a fuel for many biological and biochemical processes to occur, where it releases energy in the form of phosphate as a result of hydrolysis.


There are some notable contributors who gave their contribution to the discovery of ATP as an energy molecule.

ScientistsDiscoveryWon Nobel prize in the yearWon Nobel prize in the subject
Fritz LipmannDiscovered process by which the cells can convert basic elements of food into energy.1953Physiology and medicine
Peter DennisDiscovered process by which the cells can generate a molecule of ATP as an intermediate source of energy.1978Chemistry
Edmond H. FischerDemonstrated how cells can breakdown sugar in the bloodstream for use as fuel1992Physiology and medicine
Edwin KrebsDemonstrated process by which cells can breakdown glycogen in the bloodstream and burn it as a fuel.1992Physiology and medicine

Features of ATP

  • ATP stands for “Adenosine Tri-phosphate”.
  • The structure of the ATP molecule consists of adenine molecule, a ribose sugar and three phosphate groups.
  • ATP acts as the battery which gives power to the living cells to perform certain biological and biochemical functions.
  • Adenosine Tri-phosphate is the molecule which forms by the degradation of an organic macromolecule like proteins, nucleotides etc. through the catabolic process.
  • ATP gives energy to all type of organisms.
  • In a plant cell, ATP forms in the Thylakoid membrane or in the Chloroplast of the cell.
  • In an animal cell, ATP formation occurs in the powerhouse of the cell refers to Mitochondria.
  • ATP-synthase is the enzyme that helps in the ATP-synthesis.
  • The chemical formula of ATP is C10 H6 N5 O13 P3.
  • ATP is having 507.18 g/mol.
  • The density of the ATP molecule is 1.04 g/cm3

Structure of Adenosine Tri-phosphate

The structure of ATP contains three elements namely Adenosine, Ribose sugar and three phosphate groups.

Structure of Adenosine triphosphate


Adenosine: Adenosine comprises of Adenine and Ribose as a sugar. Adenine is the nitrogenous base which contains a nitrogen atom in its structure as a backbone and Ribose is the pentose sugar. Therefore, both adenine and ribose combine to form a nucleoside refers to “Adenosine”. In adenosine, adenine binds with the ribose sugar via β-N9 glycosidic-bond.

Basically, there are three derivatives of adenosine viz. AMP (Adenosine Monophosphate), ADP (Adenosine Di-phosphate) and ATP (Adenosine Tri-phosphate).

Among these three derivatives, the ATP molecule is the high energy-producing molecule that is found in all the living organisms. Adenosine itself acts as a “Neuromodulator” which performs the following functions:

  • Promotes sleep
  • Suppresses arousal
  • Helps in the regulation of blood flow

Ribose: It is the “Pentose sugar” or “5-C sugar”, whose chemical formula is C5H10O5. Ribose can define as the “Aldopentose sugar” which is the monosaccharide that contains 5-Carbon atoms and a functional group (Aldehyde) at one end.

Phosphate group: Phosphate molecule consists of one phosphorus and four oxygen atoms by having the chemical formula PO43-. When the phosphate molecule attaches to the carbon-containing molecule, then it refers to as “Phosphate group”.


Adenosine Tri-phosphate-cycle can define as the continuous process, where the energy-releasing molecule i.e. ATP is continuously dissociated and generated in all the living organisms.


ATP- dissociation

atp hydrolysis

It simply refers to the breakdown of ATP-molecule. It is an exothermic process where the energy is released by the cell in the form of ATP. The ATP molecule is converted into ADP by the chemical change in its configuration. The Adenosine Tri-phosphate releases energy for the functioning of a cell by the breakdown in a chemical bond or we can say by the breakdown of a phosphate group. This phosphate group then acts as an energy source for the cells to do work.

ATP- generation

ATP generation

ATP- generation is the endothermic process where the ADP molecule is again converted into high energy-producing molecule ATP where the energy is absorbed by the cell. The ATP generates from the cellular respiration by an enzyme “ATP-synthase”.

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