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Cell Biology Module

Cellular Essentials
& the Aqueous medium

Andrew Pearson

“Life is……….?

1. Based on cells
2. Surrounded by “environment”
3. Being able to survive its environment
4. Exploiting the environment to grow
5. Reproducing itself to continue.

“Life is Surrounded by “environment”

For most of Earth’s
existence, life could not
survive the environment
unless it was under water:
cosmic radiation destroys
molecules, and  the cells
that depend on them.

“Life is Surrounded by “environment” 1. Photosynthesis
gave oxygen and
O2 O3
2. Solidification of
the Fe-Ni core
generated the
Both give
? protection from
cosmic radiation.


What is a cell? How is a cell defined? Define “cell” by: • function • structure .

But different cells have • different functions &/or • different structures .

Cells have different sizes: yeast cells are larger than most bacteria .

You will become familiar with many different cells in your studies. Yet cells have a lot in common. cells with very different functions. (“cytology. histology”) Cells with very different structures. .

i. “homo- lactic fermentation” NADPH reducing power for membrane maintenance Red blood cells .e. Glucose transporter Pentose phosphate pathway Hexokinase Glycolysis.

Adipocytes Glycogen synthase Phosphorylase DNA & RNA Pyruvate dehydrogenase Fatty acid synthesis .

Brain DNA & RNA Krebs cycle .

“Striated” muscle Lactate d DNA & RNA .

Liver parenchymal cells DNA & RNA Lactate dh G-6-Pase β oxidation .

toxic chemicals 2.Environment: 1. pH. Hostile – high energy radiation other living predators temperature. nutrients energy waste disposal . Useful .


etc. S.g. . Ca. P. Such syntheses. The study of how different cells • take energy from their environment and • use it to do work is called bioenergetics. some of which are very intricate.All cells we know use the same molecules. Mg. but all have been synthesised from very small molecules: CO2 H2O N2 ions from minerals e. take energy. Fe. converting simple molecules into more ordered ones.

the cell grows until it reaches its optimum size (which is defined in different ways according to circumstances). For this to happen enough biomolecules must be synthesised for each daughter to be able to cope: the environment must provide all raw materials for the cell to process them into new cells. The next trick of a living cell is to split into two identical selves.Having found a way to survive the hostility of the environment and derive sufficient benefits therefrom. each one able to exploit the same environment in the same way. .

• only glucose. or oxidised nitrogen compounds. . or not • “essential” fatty or amino acids. • various vitamins or “growth factors”.g. or not. or a variety of sugars. etc. e. Different cells require different nutrients for biosynthesis.: • Reduced.

Different cells use different sources of energy e. glucose.g. or glucose. or ketone bodies chemical. or light energy. . fatty acids.

Bioenergetics .

pyruvate lactic acid .e.g.

urea. CO2.Different cells have different waste products.g. e. O2 . lactate.

exopolysaccharides. Energy storage: lipids or polysaccharides.Different cells produce different macro- molecules: e. etc. protein hormones or enzymes for export.g. intracellular proteins and nucleic acids. .

. some for internal transport of macromolecules.Some cells have motility. some require much energy for transmembrane transport.

and the inside safe..The Cell Boundary: keeping the external environment out ……….. a) a biomembrane conferring selective permeability b) sometimes also a “wall” conferring mechanical strength .

Fluid mosaic model of a biomembrane .

Key functions of biomembranes .

Transport proteins for membrane traffic .

PMF-driven ATP synthase .

.Cell walls generally occur in bacterial. yeast and plant cells. not in animal cells.

Plant cells contain nutrients that form an important part of our diet. .Bacterial cells : their difference from animal cells in having cell walls is exploited by antibiotic treatments. Other antibiotics exploit differences between bacterial and eukaryotic protein synthetic machinery. and the cell walls themselves provide necessary indigestible fibre.

Cellular Essentials Summary: •A boundary •Nutrient supply •Energy supply •Metabolism •Replication .

Cellular Essentials Summary: Function dictates: •Structure (overall and internal) •Metabolic details .

Life on our planet has evolved to cope with a predominantly aqueous environment: roughly 70% of the Earth’s surface & animal bodies are H2O .

Let us look at some properties of H2O.The properties of H2O have therefore had a powerful effect upon the forces of natural selection at the level of the biomolecule and the cell. .


The hydrogen bond is one of the most important forces in biochemistry. . It is relatively weak and flexible compared to normal covalent (electron) bonding between nuclei. but this weakness makes it so much more versatile and useful.

H2O dissolves mineral salts. .The water molecule is a dipole. Having both +ve & -ve charges.

. many biochemically important ions and molecules are so “hydrophilic” that Osmotic pressure results.In contrast to “hydrophobic” substances.

and eubacteria. prevent plasma membrane bursting when the contents become hypotonic. found in archae.Rigid cell walls. plants and yeasts. . Eukaryotic cells must control their tonicity since they have no cell walls.


.Another important property of H2O is it’s ability to dissociate: H2O H + + OH - proton The equilibrium is far to the left: Keq. = 10-7.

Many other biomolecules can also exist with or without a dissociable proton or two: acids and bases. The tenacity with which a molecule holds onto its dissociable protons (the pKa values) are related to the proton concentration (the pH value) of its environment. .

microorganisms and this will in macro flora will turn affect the survive. they interact.g. charges on many The pH value of soil determines which biomolecules. e. .The pH of the The pH value of medium will seawater is now very affect the topical as it affects positive and marine life. grow and ways in which thrive. negative corals.

This is important in the stability of macromolecules such as DNA: . the stronger a H-bond can be. The less it is allowed to interact with aqueous media.Hydrogen bonds abound in H2O.


How strong are chemical bonds a) relative to each other? b) relative to other energies? .

mol-1 Electrostatic Interactions Near IR = Van der 120 kJ.343 kJ.Far UV = 1200 kJ.mol-1 H-bonds UV = 480 .mol-1 Waal’s .

Water has a charge dipole.Summary. . and hence interacts with ions and charged groups on biomolecules.

and hence behave as both an acid and a base. Water can dissociate releasing a free proton. .Summary.

. Water in liquid form can form proton-sharing hydrogen bonds with itself and with many biomolecules.Summary.

which form e. which it therefore pushes together: hydrophobic compounds.g.Summary. . biomembranes. Water is unable to interact with some biomolecules.

and hence biochemical interactions. Water has a powerful influence upon biomolecules. .Summary.

Cheers! Andrew Pearson@BMS .

nutrients. …. ….interaction.. Cheers! Andrew Pearson@BMS Water. . barrier.