Cells Build and Degrade Numerous Molecules and Structures

As chemical factories, cells produce an enormous number of complex molecules from simple chemical building blocks. All of this synthetic work is powered by chemical energy extracted primarily from sugars and fats or sunlight, in the case of plant cells, and stored primarily in ATP, the universal "currency" of chemical energy (Figure 1-14). In animal and plant cells, most ATP is produced by large molecular machines located in two organelles, mitochondria and chloro-plasts. Similar machines for generating ATP are located in the plasma membrane of bacterial cells. Both mitochondria and chloroplasts are thought to have originated as bacteria that took up residence inside eukaryotic cells and then became welcome collaborators (Chapter 8). Directly or indirectly, all of our food is created by plant cells using sunlight to build complex macromolecules during photosynthesis. Even underground oil supplies are derived from the decay of plant material.

Cells need to break down worn-out or obsolete parts into small molecules that can be discarded or recycled. This housekeeping task is assigned largely to lysosomes, organelles crammed with degradative enzymes. The interior of lysosomes has a pH of about 5.0, roughly 100 times more acidic than that of the surrounding cytosol. This aids in the breakdown of materials by lysosomal enzymes, which are specially designed to function at such a low pH. To create the low pH environment, proteins located in the lysosomal membrane pump hydrogen ions into the lysosome using energy supplied from ATP (Chapter 7). Lysosomes are assisted in the cell's cleanup work by peroxisomes. These small organelles are specialized for breaking down the lipid components of membranes and rendering various toxins harmless.

Most of the structural and functional properties of cells depend on proteins. Thus for cells to work properly, the nu-

Synthesis of cellular macro-molecules (DNA, RNA, proteins, polysaccharides)

Synthesis of cellular macro-molecules (DNA, RNA, proteins, polysaccharides)

Light (photosynthesis) or compounds with high potential energy (respiration)

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10 Ways To Fight Off Cancer

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