Cells, Topic 2

The cell theory states that: 

  • All living organisms are composed of cells. Multicellular organisms (example: humans) are composed of many cells while unicellular organisms (example: bacteria) are composed of only one cell. Cells are the basic unit of structure in all organisms. 

  • Cells are the smallest unit of life. They are the smallest structures capable of surviving on their own.

  • Cells come from pre-exsisting cells and cannot be created from non-living material. For example, new cells arise from cell division and a zygote (the very first cell formed when an organism is produced) arises from the fusion of an egg cell and a sperm cell. 

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2.1.1.

The cell theory states that: 

  • All living organisms are composed of cells. Multicellular organisms (example: humans) are composed of many cells while unicellular organisms (example: bacteria) are composed of only one cell. Cells are the basic unit of structure in all organisms. 

  • Cells are the smallest unit of life. They are the smallest structures capable of surviving on their own.

  • Cells come from pre-exsisting cells and cannot be created from non-living material. For example, new cells arise from cell division and a zygote (the very first cell formed when an organism is produced) arises from the fusion of an egg cell and a sperm cell. 

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2.1.2.

When scientists started to look at the structures of organisms under the microscope they discovered that all living organisms where made up of these small units which they proceeded to call cells. When these cells were taken from tissues they were able to survive for some period of time. Nothing smaller than the cell was able to live independently and so it was concluded that the cell was the smallest unit of life. For some time, scientists thought that cells must arise from non-living material but it was eventually proven that this was not the case, instead they had to arise from pre-exsisting cells.

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2.1.3

Unicellular organisms carry out all the functions of life. 

These are:

  • Metabolism
  • Nutrition
  • Growth
  • Reproduction
  • Homeostasis
  • Reaction to Stimuli 
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2.1.4

Remember:
1 millimeter (mm) = 10-3 meters
1 micrometer (μm) = 10-3 millimeters 
1 nanometer (nm) = 10-3 micrometers

A molecule = 1 nm
Thickness of cell membrane = 10 nm
Viruses = 100 nm
Bacteria = 1μm
Organelles = up to 10 μm
Eukaryotic cells = up to 100 μm

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2.1.5

  • Take a measurement of the drawing (width or length)
  • Take this same measurement of the specimen  

  • Remember to convert units if needed to

  • Place your values into the equation

  • Magnification = length of drawing / length of actual specimen 

Conversion of units:
1 centimeter = 10-2 meters
1 millimeter = 10-3 meters
1 micrometer = 10-6 meters
1 nanometer = 10-9 meters

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2.1.6

Many reactions occur within the cell. Substances need to be taken into the cell to fuel these reactions and the wast products of the reactions need to be removed. When the cell increases in size so does its chemical activity. This means that more substances need to be taken in and more need to be removed. The surface area of the cell is vital for this. Surface area affects the rate at which particles can enter and exit the cell (The amount of substances that it takes up from the environment and excretes into the environment), whereas the volume affects the rate at which material are made or used within the cell, hence the chemical activity per unit of time. 

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2.1.6

As the volume of the cell increases so does the surface area however not to the same extent. When the cell gets bigger its surface area to volume ratio gets smaller. The first cube has a side of 1 cm, the second 3 cm and the third 4 cm. If we calculate the surface area to volume ratio we get:

Cube 1                                                          Cube 2
Surface area: 6 sides x 12 = 6 cm2                   Surface area: 6 sides x 32 = 54 cm2
Volume: 13 = 1 cm3                                                      Volume: 33 = 27 cm3
Ratio = 6:1                                                     Ratio = 2:1

As we can see the cube with the largest surface area and volume has the smallest surface area to volume ratio. If the surface area to volume ratio gets too small then substances won’t be able to enter the cell fast enough to fuel the reactions and wast products will start to accumulate within the cell as they will be produced faster than they can be excreted. In addition, cells will not be able to lose heat fast enough and so may overheat. Therefor the surface area to volume ratio is very important for a cell. 

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2.1.7

Multicellular organisms show emergent properties. For example: cells form tissues, tissues form organs, organs form organ systems and organ systems form multicellular organisms. The idea is that the whole is greater than the composition of its parts. For example your lungs are made of many cells. However, the cells by themselves aren’t much use. It is the many cells working as a unit that allow the lungs to perform their function.

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2.1.8

Every cell in a multicellular organisms contains all the genes of that organism. However, the genes that are activated vary from cell to cell. The reason we have different types of cells in our body (the cells in your eyes are not the same as the ones that make up your hair) is because different genes are activated in different cells. For example, the gene that produces keratin will be active in hair and nail cells. Keratin is the protein which makes up hair and nails. Genes encode for proteins and the proteins affect the cell’s structure and function so that the cell can specialize. This means cells develop in different ways. This is called differentiation. Differentiation depends on gene expression which is regulated mostly during transcription. It is an advantage for multicellular organisms as cells can differentiate to be more efficient unlike unicellular organisms who have to carry out all of the functions within that one cell.

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2.1.9

Adults have stems cells in the tissues in their bodies that need to be frequently replaced such as the skin. Stem cells have the ability to produce a wide range of cells which means that they are pluripotent. They retain their ability to divide and produce many different cells by cell division and the process of differentiation. For example, one type of stem cells in the bone marrow produce a variety of red and white blood cells.

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2.1.10

Bone marrow transplants are one of the many therapeutic uses of stem cells. Stem cells found in the bone marrow give rise to the red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in the body. These stem cells can be used in bone marrow transplants to treat people who have certain types of cancer. 

When a patient has cancer and is given high doses of chemotherapy, the chemotherapy kills the cancer cells but also the normal cells in the bone marrow. This means that the patient cannot produce blood cells. So before the patient is treated with chemotherapy, he or she can undergo a bone marrow harvest in which stem cells are removed from the bone marrow by using a needle which is inserted into the pelvis (hip bone). Alternatively, if stem cells cannot be used from the patient then they can be harvested from a matching donor. After the chemotherapy treatment the patient will have a bone marrow transplant in which the stem cells are transplanted back into the patient through a drip, usually via a vein in the chest or the arm. These transplanted stem cells will then find their way back to the bone marrow and start to produce healthy blood cells in the patient.

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2.2.1

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2.2.2

Cell wall: Protects the cell from the outside environment and maintains the shape of the cell. It also prevents the cell from bursting if internal pressure rises. 

Plasma membrane: Semi-permeable membrane that controls the substances moving into and out of the cell. It contains integral and peripheral proteins. Substances pass through by either active or passive transport.

Cytoplasm: Contains many enzymes used to catalyze chemical reactions of metabolism and it also contains the DNA in a region called the nucleoid. Ribosomes are also found in the cytoplasm. 

Pili: Help bacteria adhere to each other for the exchange of genetic material. 


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2.2.2

Flagella (singular flagellum): Made of a protein called flagellin. Helps bacteria move around by the use of a motor protein that spins the flagellum like a propeller.

Ribosomes: They are the site of protein synthesis. Contributes to protein synthesis by translating messenger RNA.

Nucleoid: Region containing naked DNA which stores the hereditary material (genetic information) that controls the cell and will be passed on to daughter cells.

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2.2.3

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2.2.4

Prokaryotic cells divide by binary fission. Binary fission is a method of asexual reproduction involving the splitting of the parent organism into two separate organisms.

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2.3.1

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2.3.2

Ribosomes: Found either floating free in the cytoplasm or attached to the surface of the rough endoplasmic reticulum and in mitochondria and chloroplast. Ribosomes are the site of protein synthesis as they translate messenger RNA to produce proteins.

Rough endoplasmic reticulum: Can modify proteins to alter their function and/or destination. Synthesizes proteins to be excreted from the cell.

Lysosome: Contains many digestive enzymes to hydrolyze macromolecules such as proteins and lipids into their monomers.

Golgi apparatus: Receives proteins from the rough endoplasmic reticulum and may further modify them. It also packages proteins before the protein is sent to it’s final destination which may be intracellular or extracellular.

Mitochondrion: Is responsible for aerobic respiration. Converts chemical energy into ATP using oxygen.

Nucleus: Contains the chromosomes and therefore the hereditary material. It is responsible for controlling the cell.

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2.3.3

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2.3.4

  1. Prokaryotic cells have naked DNA which is found in the cytoplasm in a region named the nucleoid. On the other hand, eukaryotes have chromosomes that are made up of DNA and protein. These chromosomes are found in the nucleus enclosed in a nuclear envelope.

  2. Prokaryotes do not have any mitochondria whereas eukaryotes do. 

  3. Prokaryotes have small ribosomes (70S) compared to eukaryotes which have large ribosomes (80S).

  4. In prokaryotes there are either no or very few organelles bounded by a single membrane in comparison to eukaryotes which have many of them including the Golgi apparatus and the endoplasmic reticulum.

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2.3.5

  •  Animal cells only have a plasma membrane and no cell wall. Whereas plant cells have a plasma membrane and a cell wall.
  • Animal cells do not have chloroplasts whereas plant cells do for the process of photosynthesis.

  • Animal cells store glycogen as their carbohydrate resource whereas plants store starch.

  • Animal cells do not usually contain any vacuoles and if present they are small or temporary. On the other hand plants have a large vacuole that is always present.

  • Animal cells can change shape due to the lack of a cell wall and are usually rounded whereas plant cells have a fixed shape kept by the presence of the cell wall.

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2.3.6

The plant cell wall gives the cell a lot of strength and prevents it from bursting under high pressure as it is made up of cellulose arranged in groups called microfibrils. It gives the cell its shape, prevents excessive water up take by osmosis and is the reason why the whole plant can hold itself up against gravity.

The animal cell contains glycoproteins in their extracellular matrix which are involved in the support, movement and adhesion of the cell.

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2.4.1

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2.4.2

Phospholipid molecules make up the cell membrane and are hydrophilic (attracted to water) as well as hydrophobic (not attracted to water but are attracted to other hydrophobic tails). They have a hydrophilic phosphate head and two hydrophobic hydrocarbon tails. Cell membranes are made up of a double layer of these phospholipid molecules. This is because in water the hydrophilic heads will face the water while the hydrophobic tails will be in the center because they face away from the water. The phospholipid bilayer makes the membrane very stable but also allows flexibility. The phospholipid in the membrane are in a fluid state which allows the cell to change it’s shape easily.

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2.4.3

Membrane proteins can act as hormone binding sites, electron carriers, pumps for active transport, channels for passive transport and also enzymes. In addition they can be used for cell to cell communication as well as cell adhesion.

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2.4.4

Diffusion is the passive movement of particles from a region of high concentration to a region of low concentration.

Osmosis is the passive movement of water molecules, across a partially permeable membrane, from a region of lower solute concentration to a region of higher solute concentration.

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2.4.5

Membranes are semi-permeable which means that they allow certain molecules through but not others. The molecules can move in and out through passive transport which is a method that does not require any input of outside energy. It can either be done by simple diffusion or facilitated diffusion. Molecules will go from a region of high concentration to a region of low concentration as they move randomly and eventually become evenly distributed within the system if they are permeable to the membrane. Simple diffusion involves the diffusion of molecules through the phospholipid bilayer while facilitated diffusion involves the use of channel proteins embedded in the membrane. The cell membrane is hydrophobic inside so hydrophobic (lipid soluble) molecules will pass through by simple diffusion whereas hydrophilic molecules and charged particles will use facilitated diffusion. Water moves through by osmosis which is also by passive transport. Osmosis involves the movement of water molecules from a region of low solute concentration, to a region of high solute concentration. So if the solute concentration is higher inside the cell than outside the cell, water will move in and vice versa.

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2.4.6

Active transport involves the movement of substances through the membrane using energy from ATP. The advantage of active transport is that substances can be moved against the concentration gradient, meaning from a region of low concentration to a region of high concentration. This is possible because the cell membrane has protein pumps embedded it which are used in active transport to move substances across by using ATP. Each protein pump only transports certain substances so the cell can control what comes in and what goes out.

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2.4.7

After proteins have been synthesized by ribosomes they are transported to the rough endoplasmic reticulum where they can be modified. Vesicles carrying the protein then bud off the rough endoplasmic reticulum and are transported to the Golgi apparatus to be further modified. After this the vesicles carrying the protein bud off the Golgi apparatus and carry the protein to the plasma membrane. Here the vesicles fuse with the membrane expelling their content (the modified proteins) outside the cell. The membrane then goes back to its original state. This is a process called exocytosis. Endocytosis is a similar process which involves the pulling of the plasma membrane inwards so that the pinching off of a vesicle from the plasma membrane occurs and then this vesicle can carry its content anywhere in the cell.

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2.4.8

The phospholipids in the cell membrane are not solid but are in a fluid state allowing the membrane to change its shape and also vesicles to fuse with it. This means substances can enter the cell via endocytosis and exit the cell via exocytosis. The membrane then returns to its original state. In exocytosis the vesicles fuse with the membrane expelling their content outside the cell. The membrane then goes back to its original state. Endocytosis is a similar process which involves the pulling of the plasma membrane inwards so that a vesicle is pinched off it and then this vesicle can carry its content anywhere in the cell.

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2.5.1

The first stage of cell division is interphase which is divided into 3 phases; G1, S and G2. The cell cycle starts with G1 (Gap phase 1) during which the cell grows larger. This is followed by phase S (synthesis) during which the genome is replicated. Finally, G2 (gap phase 2) is the second growth phase which separates the newly replicated genome and marks the end of interphase. 
The fourth stage is mitosis which is divided into prophase, metaphase, anaphase and telophase. During mitosis the spindle fibers attach to the chromosomes and pull sister chromatids apart. This stage separates the two daughter genomes. Finally, cytokinesis is the last stage during which the cytoplasm divides to create two daughter cells. In animal cells the cell is pinched in two while plant cells form a plate between the dividing cells.

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2.5.2

Tumors are formed when cell division goes wrong and is no longer controlled. This can happen in any organ or tissue.

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2.5.3

Interphase is an active period in the life of a cell during which many metabolic reactions occur such as protein synthesis, DNA replication and an increase in the number of mitochondria and/or chloroplast.

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2.5.3

Interphase is an active period in the life of a cell during which many metabolic reactions occur such as protein synthesis, DNA replication and an increase in the number of mitochondria and/or chloroplast.

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2.5.4

During prophase the spindle microtubules grow and extend from each pole to the equator. Also chromosomes super coil and become short and bulky and the nuclear envelope breaks down.

During metaphase the chromatids move to the equator and the spindle microtubules from each pole attach to each centromere on opposite sides.

During anaphase the spindle microtubules pull the sister chromatids apart splitting the centromeres. This splits the sister chromatids into chromosomes. Each identical chromosome is pulled to opposite poles.

During telophase the spindle microtubules break down and the chromosomes uncoil and so are no longer individually visible. Also the nuclear membrane reforms. The cell then divides by cytokinesis to form two daughter cells with identical genetic nuclei.

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2.5.5

Mitosis is divided into four stages; prophase, metaphase, anaphase and telophase. During prophase, the chromosomes become visible under a light microscope as they super coil and therefore they get shorter and more bulky. The nuclear envelope disintegrates and the spindle microtubules grow and extend from each pole to the equator. At metaphase the chromatids move to the equator. The sister chromatids are two DNA molecules formed by DNA replication and are therefore identical. These sister chromatids are then separated in anaphase as the spindle microtubules attaches to centromere and pulls the sister chromatids to opposite poles. As the sister chromatids separate they are called chromosomes. This means that each pole has the same chromosomes (same genetic material). Finally the microtubules break down, the chromosomes uncoil and the nuclear membrane reforms. The cell then divides into two daughter cells with genetically identical nuclei.

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2.5.6

  • Growth,
  • embryonic development, 
  • tissue repair 
  • asexual reproduction 

all involve mitosis.

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