: What makes ATP essential to the organelles and the cell itself?
Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), energy-carrying molecule found in the cells of all living things. ATP captures chemical energy obtained from the breakdown of food molecules and releases it to fuel other cellular processes.
Cells require chemical energy for three general types of tasks: to drive metabolic reactions that would not occur automatically; to transport needed substances across membranes; and to do mechanical work, such as moving muscles. ATP is not a storage molecule for chemical energy; that is the job of carbohydrates, such as glycogen, and fats. When energy is needed by the cell, it is converted from storage molecules into ATP. ATP then serves as a shuttle, delivering energy to places within the cell where energy-consuming activities are taking place. ATP is a nucleotide that consists of three main structures: the nitrogenous base, adenine; the sugar, ribose; and a chain of three phosphate groups bound to ribose. ATP is able to power cellular processes by transferring a phosphate group to another molecule (a process called phosphorylation). This transfer is carried out by special enzymes that couple the release of energy from ATP to cellular activities that require energy.