Adenosine-5'-triphosphate (ATP) is a nucleoside triphosphate used in cells as a coenzyme. It is often called the "molecular unit of currency" of intracellular energy transfer. ATP transports chemical energy within cells for metabolism. It is one of the end products of photophosphorylation, cellular respiration, and fermentation and used by enzymes and structural proteins in many cellular processes, including biosynthetic reactions, motility, and cell division. One molecule of ATP contains three phosphate groups, and it is produced by a wide variety of enzymes, including ATP synthase, from adenosine diphosphate (ADP) or adenosine monophosphate (AMP) and various phosphate group donors. Substrate level phosphorylation, oxidative phosphorylation in cellular respiration, and photophosphorylation in photosynthesis are three major mechanisms of ATP biosynthesis.
ATP is consumed in the cell by energy-requiring (endothermic) processes and can be generated by energy-releasing (exothermic) processes. In this way ATP transfers energy between spatially separate metabolic reactions. ATP is the main energy source for the majority of cellular functions. This includes the synthesis of macromolecules, including DNA and RNA (see below), and proteins. ATP also plays a critical role in the transport of macromolecules across cell membranes, e.g. exocytosis and endocytosis.