Academic journal article The American Biology Teacher

An Epiphany about Chemiosmosis

Academic journal article The American Biology Teacher

An Epiphany about Chemiosmosis

Article excerpt

Chemiosmosis is not an inspiring word to a poet. Through a long series of administrative confusions and a perceived lack of science credit, I was pushed to take another science class my senior year. I remembered liking biology in freshman year, and I realized that AP Biology would help my understanding of environmental science. Three weeks into the school year, I entered the class, woefully behind in reading and missing labs and assessments. I lived my life from between the pages of Campbell's Biology, 7th edition, and I regretted every moment spent studying metabolic pathways and dynein arms.

But then I came to chemiosmosis, the last process in cellular respiration. I traced the diagram in the book, following the H+ ions across the inner mitochondrial membrane with one finger, pulling the electrons through the proteins within the membrane. Following the electron transport chain, H+ travels across the membrane, forming a proton gradient. Chemiosmosis describes the process in which H+ diffuses back across the membrane through ATP synthase, an enzyme that phosphorylates ADP and creates ATP, the energy "currency" for the cell.

I sat there, tracing over and over, talking to the proteins and H+ ions, waiting until the information filtered into my brain. Suddenly, my finger stopped and I looked up to where my face was reflected in the dark window. My eyebrows were almost to my hairline. The cycle was genius; chemiosmosis sang poetry.

Each protein, electron, and oxygen molecule builds relationships with other molecules. But these alliances constantly change, based on the varying chemical ingredients of each molecule and its position in relation to the other components of the cell. …

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