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ATP Synthase: Definition, Structure & Function

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  • 0:01 Definition
  • 0:52 Structure
  • 1:17 F sub 1 Complex
  • 1:56 F sub 0 Complex
  • 2:34 Function
  • 3:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Chinequa Shelander
ATP Synthase is one of the most important enzymes found in the mitochondria of cells. In this lesson, you'll learn about ATP Synthase structure and function. You'll have the opportunity to check your understanding with a quiz at the end of the lesson.

ATP Synthase - Definition

Have you ever wondered how your muscles move? Or how eating and drinking actually supplies energy for your body? Well, you will be able to answer all those questions by the end of this lesson. Let's begin with the meaning of ATP synthase. ATP synthase is an enzyme located in the mitochondria and chloroplasts (plant cells) that produces the energy 'currency' of the cell known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

ATP is used by most all living organisms, including you. That's right, your body is producing ATP right now. You have more than 15 trillion cells in your body and in each cell the ATP synthases (there are more than 1 in each cell) are making ATP about million ATP/minute. Yes, that's correct, a million a minute! That is a lot of energy!!!

ATP Synthase - Structure

The structure of ATP synthase is very interesting. Inside the mitochondria there are different layers, and the ATP synthase is found within the layer known as the inner mitochondrial membrane. The enzyme actually goes through the inner membrane. ATP synthase has two major components: F1 and F0. These components are complex, so we'll discuss each one in detail.

F1 Complex

The first major component of ATP synthase, known as F1 complex, has five major subunits. They are the alpha, beta, gamma, delta and epsilon subunits.

F1 is actually found in the matrix. Remember, mitochondria have many different layers. Those layers help get as many ATP synthase molecules into one mitochondrion as possible. It is very similar to folding your clothes in order to fit more into a drawer or suitcase. Imagine a motor spinning inside your cells to produce enough energy to help you move and do anything needed for survival. Well, F1 is like a motor that spins to help produce the ATP.

F0 Complex

The second component of ATP synthase, F0, is made of three subunits. No, these subunits are not named after Greek letters. They are a lot easier to remember: they are subunits a, b, and c. Humans have three additional subunits, d, e, and f. See, easy to remember.

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