Education - The Human Cell
Did you know that the average human body is made up of anywhere between 30 - 100 TRILLION cells? Scientists do not know actually how many we have so I guess it is just an educated guess! We have over 200 different types of cells with each one having a unique role to support keeping our body in homeostasis or balance.
Inside a cell there are multiple structures including organelles (little organs). Each organelle has a different shape and specific function, I like to think of them as little factories. Each organelle has its own specific workers (enzymes) with specific jobs to do. Today I will talk about three of these amazing little factories!
This little processing plant has two parts, One (Rough ER) sorts out protein molecules for sorting and processing, packaging them with other enzymes to form part of the cell membrane or attaching them to a sugar molecule to be excreted out of the cell to be used elsewhere. The second part (smooth ER) makes fatty acids and steroids such as estrogens and testosterone. In a cell located in the liver this second part helps inactivate or detoxify drugs, alcohol, pesticides and cancer-causing agents. It is noted that if someone consistantly takes alcohol or drugs the smooth ER enlarges to protect the cell from the toxic effects. How cool is that?
These little babies are referred to as the "powerhouses of the cell". A cell may contain as few as a hundred of these or as many as several thousand depending on its role. Their main job is to generate energy but they also play an important role in apoptosis. Apoptosis is a orderly, genetically programmed death of a cell which has to be tightly controlled. The whole environment of cellular organisation relies on controlling cell division and cell death otherwise we would just get bigger and bigger!. Certain chemicals are released from the mitochondria which assist in this process.
The nucleus is the most prominent factory in the cell. In here we house our genes and it acts as the brain of our cells, controlling growth, movements, reproduction and eating. It is not always found in the center and some cells such as mature red blood cells do not have a nucleus where as a few others such as skeletal muscle cells will have multiple!
Cellular biology is so complex, intricate and amazing and if you need help visualizing what this looks like within a cell click here to watch an amazing TED talk to see the inside of a cell bought to life. After watching this video you will have such a greater understanding of what is happening within your body and how it all works. This is one of my favourite TED talks ever so please take the time to check it out!