Why is ATP so important?
Posted August 5, 2021
Living cells cannot store substantial amounts of free energy. Large amounts of free energy would create excessive heat in the cell and eventually destroy the cell. ATP (adenosine triphosphate) acts as an effective solution. ATP acts as a cell’s storehouse of energy. It enables cells to store energy safely in small packets and release the energy for use only as and when needed. In other words, ATP serves to close the gap between energy-releasing reactions such as food breakdown and energy-requiring actions such as synthesis.
Appropriated called the ‘energy currency’ of a cell, this versatile molecule stores energy that is released when cells need it to perform essential cellular functions including:
- Transportation of macromolecules such as lipids and proteins into and out of the cell
- Nerve impulse propagation
- Intracellular and extracellular signaling
- Synthesis of DNA and RNA
- Muscle contraction
- Supply of energy to chromosomes and flagella to help maintain efficient functioning
- Substrate phosphorylation
ATP also plays a critical role in maintaining the cell’s structure by facilitating the assembly of the cytoskeletal components. All of these key processes as well as several other associated reactions create a high demand for ATP.