Understanding the molecular mechanism of how ATP is made
Energy from the sun is entrapped by photosynthesis and stored in high energy compounds that we consume in food. The energy is released by controlled burning in the mitochondria in the cells of our bodies, and stored in the high energy compound adenosine triphosphate, ATP, the fuel of biology. ATP is made in the mitochondria inside our cells. They are “power stations” full of millions of molecular turbines, the ATP synthases that rotate like man-made turbines and churn out ATP in massive quantities.
We understand most of how these molecular turbines work, but not how rotation is generated. This project will provide the missing information. Bacteria have turbines that differ significantly from the human ones, and they are controlled by different mechanisms. We want to understand these differences in structure, function and regulation so as to devise drugs to kill pathogenic bacteria by stopping their turbines without influencing the human ones.