The Biology Project: Biochemistry

Metabolism Problem Set

Problem 4: Dinitrophenol

Dinitrophenol (DNP) is an uncoupler, or has the ability to separate the flow of electrons and the pumping of H+ ions for ATP synthesis. This means that the energy from electron transfer cannot be used for ATP synthesis. Fifty years ago, DNP was given as a drug to help patients lose weight. Why does this work? Why would this be dangerous?

A. Uncoupling the electron transport chain would inhibit fermentation and decrease ATP production, a potentially dangerous situation.
B. If electron transport doesn't produce ATP, then much more sugar must be metabolized for energy needs. Very low production of ATP would be lethal.

The Biology Project
University of Arizona
Tuesday, August 20, 1996
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