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ATP enzyme

the energy-producing motor of the human body North West,

Computer graphic showing coloured spheres stuck together in a chain and labelled ‘ATP’.
Molecular model showing the structure of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Wellcome Library, London.

While working at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, John Walker (born 1941) revealed how the energy necessary for all life processes is produced within the human body. 

Cells contain tiny ‘organs’ including ‘batteries’ called mitochondria, which bristle with thousands of copies of an enzyme called ATP synthase some 200,000 times smaller than a pinhead. 

Walker made his first studies of ATP synthase at the beginning of the 1980s, and in the 1990s collaborated with X-ray crystallographers to clarify the three-dimensional structure of ATP synthase. The enzyme spins 60 times per second to churn out the energy currency of our bodies, a molecule called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). 

For uncovering the details of how the human body functions Walker was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1997. 

Science Museum

Decade
Type
Chemistry, Biology,
Region
North West
Location
Daresbury Laboratory, Cheshire
Key Individuals
John Walker,