Analysis is made of the mechanisms that control the intracellular ATP level. The balance between energy production and expenditure determines the energy charge of the cell and the ratio of [ATP] to the adenylate pool. The absolute ATP concentration is determined by the adenylate pool, which, in its turn, depends on the balance between the rates of AMP synthesis and degradation. Experimental data are discussed that demonstrate an increase in the adenylate pool in response to activation of energy-consuming processes. A hypothesis is proposed according to which variation in the adenylate pool and absolute ATP concentration affords a cell the possibility of additional control over processes fulfilling useful work. A mechanism involved in this regulation is described using human erythrocytes as an example. The hypothesis explains why different metabolic pathways (protein and DNA syntheses, polysaccharide synthesis, and lipid synthesis) use different trinucleotides (GTP, UTP, and CTP, respectively) as an energy source. This allows the cell to independently control these metabolic processes by varying the individual nucleotide pools.

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