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Big Picture on the Cell

Big Picture on the Cell

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Published by Wellcome Trust
How can cells grow and develop to form complex creatures? In this issue of our free, post-16 educational resource we explore the secrets of the cell.
How can cells grow and develop to form complex creatures? In this issue of our free, post-16 educational resource we explore the secrets of the cell.

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Published by: Wellcome Trust on Dec 15, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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ISSUE 13
jANUARY 2011
bRiNgiNg CUTTiNg-EDgE SCiENCE iNTo THE CLASSRooM
THE CELL
What are cells or?How do cells divide, developand communicate?What are stem cells andwhy are they important?What happens when cells die?
Insiderknowledge
Revealing the secrets o your cells
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JANUARY 2011 •
 3
jn us as we explre the uldn lck  le.
The cell is the smallest unit o lie. Somesimple organisms consist o just one cell,whereas more complex beasts, like us, havevast numbers o them. Humans are amongthe organisms built up rom eukaryoticcells, which have their DNA parcelledup in a nucleus, and lots o subcellularcompartments, called organelles. Prokaryoticorganisms (such as bacteria) are simpler:cells still with DNA, but having no nucleusor membrane-bound structures. The vastmajority o these are unicellular, while mosteukaryotic organisms are multicellular.The intricately organised insides oeukaryotic cells allow them to have dierentthings happening in dierent compartments.Keeping a cell going depends on gettingthe right molecules to the right place at theright time. Having distinct spaces does halthe job, but it also requires sophisticatedmachinery to ensure the right things getinto each section. Only material the cell hasnished with, or example, can be allowedinto a lysosome, where powerul enzymesare poised to break down the material intosmaller molecules.Cell theory was put orward in the1830s, soon ater the cell nucleus was rstidentied in eukaryotes. It recognised thatliving things are made o cells, that cellsare the basic units o lie, and that newcells are created by old ones dividing intotwo. Viruses – simple entities o genes andprotein – need to get into a cell and hijack itscytoplasmic machinery to copy themselves.We describe these as acellular, and they arenot considered to be living.In this issue, we’ll be ocusing on animalcells – how they reproduce, grow, move,communicate and die. So join us to explorewhat we know – as well as what we still don’tunderstand – about the cells that are thebasis o all o us.
intrducn the cell
microflaments
– smallerthan mcrtuules, these aremade rm repeatn actnsuunts. Respnsle rcell mvement and chanesn shape, and make musclecntractn pssle. Part  the cytskeletn
nuclear pores
– apsn the nuclear envelpethat allw sustancest mve n and ut  the nucleus
nuclear envelope
dule memrane thatseparates the cntents the nucleus rm thecytplasm
extracellular matrix
– themateral n etween cells thathlds tssues tether, usuallymade  scaldn prtenssuch as cllaen
ribosomes
– mlecular machnes,ult rm RNA and prten, thatmake new prtens. They are undn the cytplasm and und t theruh endplasmc retculum
lysosomes
– memrane-undranelles that are the cell’s rushdspsal and recycln unts; cntanhydrlytc enzymes
centrioles
– a par  ranelles that ransesmcrtuules nt spndlesn whch chrmsmesare separated whencells dvde
vacuoles
– nternal as,surrunded y a memrane,whch cells use r strae d r waste
cytoplasm
– everythn nthe cell utsde the nucleus;a vscus fud cntannprtens, ther rancand nranc mlecules,memranes and ranelles
plasma membrane
– a phsphlpdlayer that cntans chlesterland prtens. it surrunds the cell andenales t t cmmuncate wth tsnehurs and detect and respndt chanes n the envrnment
mitochondria (singular:mitochondrion)
– rd-shapeddes n the cytplasm thatsupply chemcal enery t therest  the cell
Golgi apparatus
ne  the wndruslycmplex memranesystems n the cytplasm,whch mdes, packaesand drects newly madeprtens t where theyare needed
nucleolus
– part  thenucleus that prducesrsmes
endoplasmic reticulum(ER)
– an extensve netwrk memranes. Ruh ER sstudded wth rsmes ands a ste where prtens aremade, mded and prcessedr shppn. The rles  smth ER nclude lpd andsterd synthess and drudetxcatn
microtubules
– small, tuular assemles  prten, made rm repeatn tuuln suunts,whch help mantan the cell’s nternal structureand mve ranelles and cytplasm usnmlecular mtrs. Part  the cytskeletn
nucleus
– the nrmatn centre the eukarytc cell, where theDNA s stred, replcated andcped nt RNA (transcred)

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We have lots of additional content on the companion website, including animations, videos and lesson plans: www.wellcome.ac.uk/bigpicture
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