Question 21 - Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems Practice Test for the MCAT

Considering the action of cyanide, what would be the most likely cause of death in a cyanide poisoning? (You may consult the attached passage and graphics.)

Mitochondria (singular = mitochondrion) are often called the “powerhouses” or “energy factories” of both plant and animal cells because they are responsible for making adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the cell’s main energy-carrying molecule. ATP represents the short-term stored energy of the cell. Cellular respiration is the process of making ATP using the chemical energy found in glucose and other nutrients. In mitochondria, this process uses oxygen and produces carbon dioxide as a waste product. In fact, the carbon dioxide that you exhale with every breath comes from the cellular reactions that produce carbon dioxide as a byproduct. Mitochondria are oval-shaped, double membrane organelles that have their own ribosomes and DNA. Each membrane is a phospholipid bilayer embedded with proteins. The inner layer has folds called cristae. The area surrounded by the folds is called the mitochondrial matrix. The cristae and the matrix have different roles in cellular respiration.

Dinitrophenol (DNP) was used in the manufacture of munitions in World War I. In the 1930s, it was used as a weight loss drug. Use in the U.S. cannot be regulated by the FDA because DNP is considered a dietary supplement. Attempts to ban the drug in the U.K. following the death of four users in 2015 failed in Parliament. DNP is a small molecule that is soluble in the mitochondrial inner membrane. The hydroxyl group reversibly dissociates a proton. Refer to the figure below for a visualization of mitochondrial membrane.



Retrieved from: Eggebrecht,J., & Zedalis,J.(2018) Biology for AP® Courses. OpenStax.

Retrieved from: Eggebrecht,J., & Zedalis,J.(2018) Biology for AP® Courses. OpenStax.

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