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2.9: Molecular Backups for Muscles

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  • For plants, the needs for energy are different than for animals. Plants do not need to access energy sources as rapidly as animals do, nor do they have to maintain a constant internal temperature. Plants can neither flee predators, nor chase prey. These needs of animals are much more immediate and require that energy stores be accessible on demand. Muscles, of course, enable the motion of animals and the energy required for muscle contraction is ATP. To have stores of energy readily available, muscles have, in addition to ATP, creatine phosphate and glycogen for quick release of glucose from glycogen. The synthesis of creatine phosphate is a prime example of the effects of concentration on the synthesis of high energy molecules. For example, creatine phosphate has an energy of hydrolysis of -43.1 kJ/mol whereas ATP has an energy of hydrolysis of -30.5 kJ/mol Creatine phosphate, however, is made from creatine and ATP in the reaction shown below. How is this possible?

    Creatine + ATP <=> Creatine phosphate + ADP

    The ΔG°’ of this reaction is +12.6 kJ/mol, reflecting the energies noted above. In a resting muscle cell, ATP is abundant and ADP is low, driving the reaction to the right, creating creatine phosphate. When muscular contraction commences, ATP levels fall and ADP levels climb. The above reaction then reverses and proceeds to synthesize ATP immediately. Thus creatine phosphate acts like a battery, storing energy when ATP levels are high and releasing it almost instantaneously to create ATP when its levels fall.


    Dr. Kevin Ahern and Dr. Indira Rajagopal (Oregon State University)

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