What is ATP and why is it important?
ATP stands for adenosine triphosphate. It is a molecule found in the cells of living organisms. It is said to be very important because it transports the energy necessary for all cellular metabolic activities. It is dubbed as the universal unit of energy for living organisms. Without ATP, various metabolic activities in the human body cannot take place.
ATP consists of one adenine molecule and three phosphate molecules. These molecules are produced through various processes including cellular respiration and phosphorylation. ATP molecules are called the drivers of cellular metabolism. They carry the energy needed by a particular cellular activity. Another important thing about this molecule is that it is recyclable. After being used up in a particular metabolic process, they are converted back into its precursors, allowing for re-use.
But aside from transporting energy for cellular activities, ATP also helps in maintaining proper cell structure. Cells have an outer covering called cell membranes and these are maintained and protected to prevent foreign substances from intrusion. This mechanism is very important in the prevention of infections and various illnesses in the body. ATP is also important in the process called DNA synthesis. In this process, ATP again provides the energy requirement for this cellular activity to occur. In the muscular system, ATP provides the energy necessary for muscle contraction. Through its action on actin and myosin filaments present on muscle fibers, ATP brings about shortening and lengthening of these fibers to allow for movement and locomotion.
ATP provides support to almost all metabolic cellular activities of human bodies. In other living organisms like plants, ATP also helps in the process called photosynthesis. In yeasts, ATP is also involved in the fermentation process. In small organisms like fungi, ATP helps in the respiration process. With its various functions in important cellular activities of living organisms, ATP is considered an essential molecule.