What you’ll learn to do: Describe how cells store and transfer free energy using ATP
All living things require energy to function. While different organisms acquire this energy in different ways, they store (and use it) in the same way. In this section, we’ll learn about ATP—the energy of life. ATP is how cells store energy. These storage molecules are produced in the mitochondria, tiny organelles found in eukaryotic cells sometimes called the “powerhouse” of the cell.
Mitochondrial Disease Physician
What happens when the critical reactions of cellular respiration do not proceed correctly? Mitochondrial diseases are genetic disorders of metabolism. Mitochondrial disorders can arise from mutations in nuclear or mitochondrial DNA, and they result in the production of less energy than is normal in body cells.
In type 2 diabetes, for instance, the oxidation efficiency of NADH is reduced, impacting oxidative phosphorylation but not the other steps of respiration. Symptoms of mitochondrial diseases can include muscle weakness, lack of coordination, stroke-like episodes, and loss of vision and hearing. Most affected people are diagnosed in childhood, although there are some adult-onset diseases.
Identifying and treating mitochondrial disorders is a specialized medical field. The educational preparation for this profession requires a college education, followed by medical school with a specialization in medical genetics. Medical geneticists can be board certified by the American Board of Medical Genetics and go on to become associated with professional organizations devoted to the study of mitochondrial diseases, such as the Mitochondrial Medicine Society and the Society for Inherited Metabolic Disease.