ATP as a biological hydrotrope

Avinash PatelAnthony A Hyman


Hydrotropes are small molecules that solubilize hydrophobic molecules in aqueous solutions. Typically, hydrotropes are amphiphilic molecules and differ from classical surfactants in that they have low cooperativity of aggregation and work at molar concentrations. Here, we show that adenosine triphosphate (ATP) has properties of a biological hydrotrope. It can both prevent the formation of and dissolve previously formed protein aggregates. This chemical property is manifested at physiological concentrations between 5 and 10 millimolar. Therefore, in addition to being an energy source for biological reactions, for which micromolar concentrations are sufficient, we propose that millimolar concentrations of ATP may act to keep proteins soluble. This may in part explain why ATP is maintained in such high concentrations in cells.

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