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Electron Transport Chain
This animation shows how the enzyme complexes of the electron transport chain harvest energy from cofactor molecules to pump protons across the mitochondrial membrane and establish a chemical gradient. It is the fourth of six animations about cellular respiration. These animations bring to life the molecular engines inside mitochondria that generate ATP, the main source of chemically stored energy used throughout the body.
Electrons harvested from cofactors generated by the citric acid cycle (third animation) travel through the enzyme complexes of the electron transport chain, powering the pumping of protons across the mitochondrial inner membrane. The resulting concentration gradient powers the synthesis of ATP (fifth animation). After the electrons have moved through the electron transport chain, they are accepted by oxygen.
The animation is appropriate for teaching advanced high school or college-level students the in-depth mechanisms of the electron transport chain. For more general audiences, the animation can be used as an example of molecular machines, enzymes, and chemical gradients in action. Depending on students’ background, it may be helpful to pause the animation at various points to discuss different reactions or molecules.
All six cellular respiration animations are also available in a YouTube playlist.
An audio descriptive version of the film is available via our media player.
cell membrane, cellular respiration, chemical reaction, electron, energy, enzyme, metabolism, mitochondria, NADH, oxidation
The resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. No rights are granted to use HHMI’s or BioInteractive’s names or logos independent from this Resource or in any derivative works.
Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
AP Biology (2019)
IB Biology (2016)
Vision and Change (2009)
CC2, CC4; DP3