One way of making ATP requires:

  • A membrane (would probably have to be a phospholipid bilayer)
  • A difference in H+ chemical potential across the membrane
  • ATP synthase anchored to the low-potential side of the membrane
  • Some reasonable concentration of ADP on the low-potential side of the membrane

Now, I know ATP has a short half-life, but if we wanted to run some step of a biological process that requires ATP, would it be possible to create an artificial ATP synthesis "cell" that would convert ADP to ATP for use by enzymes in solution?

If not, then are those four steps sufficient? If so, then which step is the hard part? Thank you.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to SE Biology. As a new user we expect you to do us the courtesy of at least finish reading the Tour. You have not done so. Please do, and look at the Help on asking questions. Questions that relate to hypothetical situations can generally only be answered by opinions. Creating cells is usually considered in the domain of God, or perhaps evolution. What precisely do you mean by “is it possible to create an artificial ATP synthesis cell”? What exactly is the biological problem you are faced with? Questions here are expected to fulfill the latter criterion. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Feb 23 at 20:20
  • $\begingroup$ Hello David. When I said "cell" I wasn't referring to a biological cell but an electrochemical cell. I do not know why you would have interpreted as the former. Regarding what I meant by "is it possible to create an artificial ATP synthesis cell?” I meant precisely what I wrote. My problem is synthesizing large amounts of ATP in vitro. My question does conform the the tour guideline which you can see because it's already been given a non-opinion answer. $\endgroup$
    – tourist
    Feb 23 at 20:59
  • $\begingroup$ I’m not much the wiser. What’s an electrochemical cell? Sounds like something in the chemical domain. And why do you want to generate large amounts of ATP? The fact that someone posted an answer, means nothing, especially as the answer is in terms of a biological cell with a lipid bilayer membrane,and amounts to no more than touching on the main features of the biological system. If I wanted to generate ATP I’d use a single reaction that performed substrate-level phosphorylation, but I don’t answer questions which are unclear to me. Btw we use @johndoe type references for alerts to replies. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Feb 23 at 22:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If your just trying to mass produce ATP there are several known production systems, why do none of those work for you? $\endgroup$
    – John
    Nov 20 at 23:43

1 Answer 1


The four steps you listed are the basic requirements for ATP synthesis, and a simplified artificial ATP synthesis system can be created using these components. However, there are some additional factors that need to be considered in order to create a functional system, such as the stability of the lipid bilayer, the efficiency of ATP synthase activity, and the availability of energy sources to generate the proton gradient.

One of the key challenges in creating an artificial ATP synthesis system is the efficient reconstitution of functional ATP synthase in the lipid bilayer. ATP synthase is a large, multi-subunit protein complex that is composed of both membrane-bound and soluble components, and it can be difficult to reconstitute the complex in an active form in vitro.

Another challenge is the generation of a stable proton gradient across the membrane, which is required for ATP synthesis. This can be achieved using different energy sources, such as light, electrochemical gradients, or chemical reactions.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ there are many TP production methods that do not need ATP synthase and use enzyme cascades instead. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Nov 20 at 23:46

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