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The currents of life: The terminal electron-transfer complex of respiration

Ramirez, Benjamin E. and Malmström, Bo G. and Winkler, Jay R. and Gray, Harry B. (1995) The currents of life: The terminal electron-transfer complex of respiration. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 92 (26). pp. 11949-11951. ISSN 0027-8424. PMCID PMC40272.

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Aerobic organisms derive most of the energy needed for life processes by the burning of foodstuffs with the molecular oxygen in air, as first suggested in 1789 (1) by Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794). In the first part of the respiratory process, hydrogen atoms are extracted from organic molecules. The hydrogen carriers are later regenerated in the respiratory chain located in cell organelles, mitochondria, or, in bacteria, in the cell membrane. These chains consist of a series of membrane-bound protein complexes in which the hydrogen atoms are split into protons and electrons. The electrons are passed down the chain and reduce molecular oxygen to water, whereas the protons are left behind on one specific side of the membrane. In addition, the electron transfer (ET) or "current" through the chain is coupled to a pumping of additional protons from water to the same membrane side. Thus, the two proton currents lead to an increased positive charge and decreased pH on this side-i.e., an electrochemical potential across the membrane, analogous to a storage battery. This potential drives the synthesis of ATP, the universal energy currency in living cells, by a chemiosmotic mechanism formulated by Peter Mitchell (2), who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1978.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
Winkler, Jay R.0000-0002-4453-9716
Gray, Harry B.0000-0002-7937-7876
Additional Information:© 1995 by the National Academy of Sciences. Our work is supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Swedish Natural Science Research Council.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Swedish Natural Science Research CouncilUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:26
PubMed Central ID:PMC40272
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:RAMpnas95
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:982
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:21 Nov 2005
Last Modified:22 Nov 2019 09:58

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