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Oxidative Phosphorylation

by Greg Crowther and Do Peterson


Oxidative phosphorylation is the mitochondrial process by which electron transport leads to the pumping of protons out of the matrix, which then leads to ATP synthesis when the protons diffuse down their electrochemical gradient into the matrix.


Do you see the athletes run?
Do you see the children crawl?
Every soul beneath the sun --
Ox phos fuels them one and all.

You can't see inside their cells;
If you could, here's what you'd see:
Small cigar-shaped organelles
Synthesizing ATP.

Matrix protons get pumped out
To the intermembrane space.
Then they take an inward route
Through the ATP synthase.

[Preacher's message:]
Fuel the muscles.
Feel the sunshine.
Feel the ATP.
See the children.
See the athletes.
Ox phos fuels us you and me.
In the morning,
In the mid-day,
In the afternoon.
In the evening,
In the late night,
Ox phos fuels us me and you.
When I feel up,
When I feel good,
When I'm movin' 'round,
When I sit up,
When I stand up,
When I make my sound.
All right, now.
Oxidative phosphorylation.
Oxidative phosphorylation.
Oxidative phosphorylation.
Oxidative phosphorylation....

Other Files

MP3 (by Science Groove)

music video

sheet music

Lesson Plan

Songs like this one can be used during class meetings and/or in homework assignments. Either way, the song will be most impactful if students DO something with it, as opposed to just listening.

An initial, simple follow-up activity could be to answer the study questions below. A more extensive interaction with the song might entail (A) learning to sing it, using an audio file and/or sheet music as a guide, and/or (B) illustrating it with pictures, bodily poses, and/or bodily movements. The latter activity could begin with students identifying the most important or most challenging content of the song, and deciding how to illustrate that particular content.

Study Questions

(1) What are referred to as "small cigar-shaped organelles synthesizing ATP"?

(2) In these organelles, do oxygen and/or carbon dioxide serve as substrates and/or products? Explain.

(3) In the context of organelle anatomy, what are the matrix and the intermembrane space, respectively?

(4) In the process of oxidative phosphorylation, which two molecules are combined to form ATP?

(5) What causes matrix protons to "get pumped out to the intermembrane space"?

(6) In the term oxidative phosphorylation, to what does the word "oxidative" refer? To what does the term "phosphorylation" refer?

(7) The lyrics emphasize movement and exercise -- crawling, running, etc. Is oxidative phosphorylation an important process in humans at rest as well?

(8) Considering the specific content covered by this song, is there anything important that is missing, unclear, or misleading? If so, what?

(Answers may be found on the answers page.)