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The mighty mitochondrion,
A most amazing organelle,
An energetic proton pump,
The powerhouse within the cell.
These little guys can replicate,
Undergo fission when they’re large
And are created on demand
When a cell in need’s in charge.
For those who might be curious,
We get these mostly from our mom.
The sperm, a hundred in its tail;
The egg, 100K’s the ROM.
They each have their own DNA,
Can make the proteins each requires,
But what completely drops my jaw:
Electron flow on protein wires.
You may recall your chemistry;
For me, a long, long time ago…
‘Bout ADP and ATP,
The fuel of all the life we know.
Just like a sack within a sack,
A double membrane does surround
A matrix lies within the core
That’s where the true excitement’s found.
Embedded all throughout the fold
Are proteins that perform a task:
To transfer charge across this wall.
How so? I thought you’d never ask…
See, proteins are assembled from
Amino acids, one by one.
Sometimes, two hundred links or more,
But there’s still more that must be done.
The long chain folds up like a ball
Or tube embedded in that skin
Enough to span the membrane wall
To let electrons pass within.
The chain must fold in such a way
That iron crystals - there are nine,
Are held within, extreme, precise,
Forming a gradient, a line.
It’s hard to state just how precise;
Some fourteen atom widths apart
Arranged with slight increasing draw
To drive a stake through O2’s heart.
Like hopping on these stepping stones,
Electrons jump from one to next.
Controlled release of energy
Lest excess heat would surely vex.
As each electron takes this path,
A single proton is knocked loose.
The process that ensues, complex,
But ATP is what’s produced.
Three protons for each molecule,
Ten protons in a second’s tick.
How many are there, all in all?
The number gets huge pretty quick.
Within each mitochondrion,
Ten thousand of these pumps or more
And mitochondria per cell?
That ranges in the scores of scores.
You’re made of 40 trillion cells;
If you unfold their layers flat
They’d cover four entire fields
For playing football - how ‘bout that!
Combined, ten to the twenty-first,
The protons that these pumps coerce
Per second, slightly smaller than
The stars in the known universe.
You are indeed most wondrous made;
The more I look, the more enthralled.
Complexity is off the charts;
Praise to the One who made it all.
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