The energy released when cells break down molecules of fat and carbohydrates is used to create an excess of protons on one side of a membrane. Using ATP synthase, cells harness this proton imbalance to power the synthesis of ATP, which stores the energy until it is needed.
|In Boyer's model, the key to this process is a tiny shaft running through the middle of a barrel-like portion of the enzyme. A flow of protons through the membrane makes the shaft spin, which sucks in raw materials and blows out the fresh ATP. The model has been instrumental in overturning simplistic "lock-and-key" explanations of how enzymes work, in which chemicals simply drop into inflexible enzyme grooves, react and then depart.|
The structure contains 22722 atoms and 23211 bonds connected as 2987 amino acid groups.