Be Human Joy

Be a Na+Ka+ATPase pump

If I were my own best friend I would tell myself to sit down and study a little physiology, then…

Be a Na+K+ATPase pump – put more positive into the world then you take out.

***I know, I know… there’s a lot going on in this picture and there are a lot of abbreviations in the title. So what does it all mean?? First, the pump is a sodium-potassium-adenosine-triphosphat-ase-pump, abbreviated to Na+K+ATPase pump. Basically, it’s this really cool pump that human cells use to maintain a concentration gradient in the body between sodium and potassium. This concentration gradient is one factor that allows us to send really fast signals between cells to tell our brains we just stepped on something sharp and it hurts, or we want to catch the bus but it’s rolling by so we better run. There is a lot of other stuff going on to make those signals happen too, but this pump helps contribute to the process. Maybe in other posts we’ll get into some of that other stuff!

SCIENCE ALERT: If you want to skip the science stuff and get to the “message” then move along two paragraphs. (And for those of you who are heavy into the science, yes, I know this is simplified.) So, what is a concentration gradient? It is a difference in concentration between two sides. In this case, there is a lot of sodium outside the cell membrane and very little inside. The opposite is true of potassium, there is a lot of potassium inside the cell and less outside. The Na+K+ATPase pump helps keep this concentration gradient maintained. So cool! 

Now, let’s get to what’s happening in the picture… First (1) three sodium molecules bind to the pump from the inside of the cell (those are the little blue balls). Next (2) the pump interacts with ATP and it breaks down into ADP (adenosine-diphosphate) and an inorganic phosphate molecule (that’s where the ATPase comes from in the name) – this results in the pump changing its shape after binding with the inorganic phosphate. The shape change (3) allows it to open to the outside of the cell, where it dumps off the three sodium molecules and it picks up two potassium molecules (orange triangles) to take back with it. In the final step (4) the inorganic phosphate molecule gets kicked off, the pump changes shape again and reopens to the inside of the cell, kicking out two potassium molecules in the process. And its ready to go again! 

MOVING ON FROM THE SCIENCE…SORT OF… Sodium and potassium are both positively charged molecules. So it means that when the pump moves three sodium out into the world and takes two potassium back in, it is moving a total of three positive charges out and two positive charges in. This results in a net movement of one positive molecule out into the world! 

And that’s the point… what if we all put one more positive molecule into the world? Imagine the giant shift in energy that would happen, if everyone out there just added one more positive molecule to the mix! Molecules are small – meaning that the one positive thing you put out there does not have to be big – it could be as simple as smiling at one person you usually wouldn’t smile at or saying ‘thank you’ to the bus driver as you get on or off or just telling someone you care about that you are glad you know them. It’s simple, takes less than 10 seconds in each case and adds a little more positive into the world. 

What do you think? Could you add a little more positive into the world around you? Do you think it would make a difference if we all did it? 

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