ATP Structure, Synthesis, and Hydrolysis


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My AP Biology Thoughts

Unit 3 Cellular Energetics

Welcome to My AP Biology Thoughts podcast, my name is Arthur Kim and I am your host for episode # called Unit 3 Cellular Energetics: ATP Structure, Synthesis, and Hydrolysis. Today we will be discussing the structure of ATP as well as the processes under which it is formed and broken down.

Segment 1: Introduction to ATP Structure, Synthesis, and Hydrolysis

  • ATP is basically the energy currency that our cells use in order to carry out their essential functions.
  • It is comprised of the nitrogenous base adenine bonded to a ribose sugar, attached to which are three linked inorganic phosphate groups.
  • The reason why ATP is the energy currency is that a lot of energy is released when the bond between the last two phosphate groups is broken, specifically -57kJ/mol.

Segment 2: More About ATP Structure, Synthesis, and Hydrolysis

  • ATP is synthesized through the phosphorylation, the adding of an inorganic phosphate group, of ADP.
  • Happens in two instances.
  • The phosphorylation of ADP into ATP is a part of glycolysis, and overall, a net 2 ATP is produced.
  • Synthesized by the enzyme, ATP synthase, which phosphorylates ADP into ATP when protons pass through it via chemiosmosis.
  • This means of synthesizing ATP is an essential aspect of both cellular respiration and photosynthesis.
  • The proton gradient that allows ATP synthase to work is generated by the ETC.
  • Conversely, ATP is hydrolyzed by means of dephosphorylation, where the inorganic phosphate group at the end of the chain is broken off after the ATP molecule reacts with a water molecule.
  • As stated previously, this process is exothermic, providing the activation energy needed to carry out countless essential biochemical reactions.

Segment 3: Connection to the Course

  • Being the main energy currency, ATP is a cornerstone for the function of almost all life on Earth.
  • As all biochemical reactions have an activation energy requirement to proceed, the hydrolysis of ATP is absolutely essential.

Thank you for listening to this episode of My AP Biology Thoughts. For more student-ran podcasts and digital content, make sure that you visit

Music Credits:

  • "Ice Flow" Kevin MacLeod (
  • Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License

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