Structure of F1-ATPase from the obligate anaerobe Fusobacterium nucleatum

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the fuel of life, is produced by a molecular machine consisting of two motors linked by a rotor. One generates rotation by consuming energy derived from oxidative metabolism or photosynthesis; the other uses energy transmitted by the rotor to make ATP from adenosine diphosphate and phosphate. In many species, the machine is reversible, and various mechanisms regulate reversal.

Permeability transition in mitochondria

Mitochondria generate the cellular fuel, adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, to sustain complex life. Production of ATP depends on the oxidation of energy rich compounds to produce a chemical potential difference for hydrogen ions (or proton motive force, pmf), across the inner mitochondrial membrane (IMM).

Disruption of the IMM, dissipation of the pmf and cell death occur if the total concentration of calcium inside mitochondria is elevated sufficiently to open a pore in the IMM. It has been proposed that the pore is in the membrane sector of the ATP synthase.


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