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YDahi's Cell Structure & Function

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Cell Structure & Function

Cells, the smallest structures capable of maintaining life and reproducing, compose all living things, from single-celled plants to multibillion-celled animals. The human body, which is made up of numerous cells, begins as a single, newly fertilized cell.

Almost all human cells are microscopic in size. To give you an idea how small a cell is, one average-sized adult body, according to one estimate, consists of 100 trillion cells!

Cell Structure

Ideas about cell structure have changed considerably over the years. Early biologists saw cells as simple membranous sacs containing fluid and a few floating particles. Today's biologists know that cells are infinitely more complex than this.

There are many different types, sizes, and shapes of cells in the body. For descriptive purposes, the concept of a "generalized cell" is introduced. It includes features from all cell types. A cell consists of three parts: the cell membrane, the nucleus, and, between the two, the cytoplasm. Within the cytoplasm lie intricate arrangements of fine fibers and hundreds or even thousands of miniscule but distinct structures called organelles.

Cell membrane

Every cell in the body is enclosed by a cell (Plasma) membrane. The cell membrane separates the material outside the cell, extracellular, from the material inside the cell, intracellular. It maintains the integrity of a cell and controls passage of materials into and out of the cell. All materials within a cell must have access to the cell membrane (the cell's boundary) for the needed exchange.

The cell membrane is a double layer of phospholipid molecules. Proteins in the cell membrane provide structural support, form channels for passage of materials, act as receptor sites, function as carrier molecules, and provide identification markers.

Nucleus and Nucleolus

The nucleus, formed by a nuclear membrane around a fluid nucleoplasm, is the control center of the cell. Threads of chromatin in the nucleus contain deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the genetic material of the cell. The nucleolus is a dense region of ribonucleic acid (RNA) in the nucleus and is the site of ribosome formation. The nucleus determines how the cell will function, as well as the basic structure of that cell.

Cytoplasm

The cytoplasm is the gel-like fluid inside the cell. It is the medium for chemical reaction. It provides a platform upon which other organelles can operate within the cell. All of the functions for cell expansion, growth and replication are carried out in the cytoplasm of a cell. Within the cytoplasm, materials move by diffusion, a physical process that can work only for short distances.

Cytoplasmic organelles

Cytoplasmic organelles are "little organs" that are suspended in the cytoplasm of the cell. Each type of organelle has a definite structure and a specific role in the function of the cell. Examples of cytoplasmic organelles are mitochondrion, ribosomes, endoplasmic reticulum, golgi apparatus, and lysosomes.

Cell Function

The structural and functional characteristics of different types of cells are determined by the nature of the proteins present. Cells of various types have different functions because cell structure and function are closely related. It is apparent that a cell that is very thin is not well suited for a protective function. Bone cells do not have an appropriate structure for nerve impulse conduction. Just as there are many cell types, there are varied cell functions. The generalized cell functions include movement of substances across the cell membrane, cell division to make new cells, and protein synthesis.

Movement of substances across the cell membrane

The survival of the cell depends on maintaining the difference between extracellular and intracellular material. Mechanisms of movement across the cell membrane include simple diffusion, osmosis, filtration, active transport, endocytosis, and exocytosis.

Simple diffusion is the movement of particles (solutes) from a region of higher solute concentration to a region of lower solute concentration. Osmosis is the diffusion of solvent or water molecules through a selectively permeable membrane. Filtration utilizes pressure to push substances through a membrane. Active transport moves substances against a concentration gradient from a region of lower concentration to a region of higher concentration. It requires a carrier molecule and uses energy. Endocytosis refers to the formation of vesicles to transfer particles and droplets from outside to inside the cell. Secretory vesicles are moved from the inside to the outside of the cell by exocytosis.

Cell Division

Cell division is the process by which new cells are formed for growth, repair, and replacement in the body. This process includes division of the nuclear material and division of the cytoplasm. All cells in the body (somatic cells), except those that give rise to the eggs and sperm (gametes), reproduce by mitosis. Egg and sperm cells are produced by a special type of nuclear division called meiosis in which the number of chromosomes is halved. Division of the cytoplasm is called cytokinesis.

Somatic cells reproduce by mitosis, which results in two cells identical to the one parent cell. Interphase is the period between successive cell divisions. It is the longest part of the cell cycle. The successive stages of mitosis are prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase. Cytokinesis, division of the cytoplasm, occurs during telophase.

Almost all human cells are microscopic in size. To give you an idea how small a cell is, one average-sized adult body, according to one estimate, consists of 100 trillion cells!

Meiosis is a special type of cell division that occurs in the production of the gametes, or eggs and sperm. These cells have only 23 chromosomes, one-half the number found in somatic cells, so that when fertilization takes place the resulting cell will again have 46 chromosomes, 23 from the egg and 23 from the sperm.

DNA replication and protein synthesis

Proteins that are synthesized in the cytoplasm function as structural materials, enzymes that regulate chemical reactions, hormones, and other vital substances. DNA in the nucleus directs protein synthesis in the cytoplasm. A gene is the portion of a DNA molecule that controls the synthesis of one specific protein molecule. Messenger RNA carries the genetic information from the DNA in the nucleus to the sites of protein synthesis in the cytoplasm.

Hands On Exercise

Exercise A: Drag and drop the correct labels for the plant cell below. Multiple attempts are allowed.

Exercise B: Drag and drop the correct labels for the animal cell below. Multiple attempts are allowed.

The content and media on this page are for demonstration purposes only. The content provided on this page has been borrowed from the National Cancer Institute. The original content can be found at this link: https://training.seer.cancer.gov/anatomy/cells_tissues_membranes/cells/structure.html

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This section provides detailed information about cell structure and function, four basic types of tissue in the human body, and the different types of membranes found in the body.

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Anatomical Terminology

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Directional Terms

Directional terms describe the positions of structures relative to other structures or locations in the body.

Superior or cranial - toward the head end of the body; upper (example, the hand is part of the superior extremity).

Inferior or caudal - away from the head; lower (example, the foot is part of the inferior extremity).

Anterior or ventral - front (example, the kneecap is located on the anterior side of the leg).

Posterior or dorsal - back (example, the shoulder blades are located on the posterior side of the body).

Medial - toward the midline of the body (example, the middle toe is located at the medial side of the foot).

Lateral - away from the midline of the body (example, the little toe is located at the lateral side of the foot).

Proximal - toward or nearest the trunk or the point of origin of a part (example, the proximal end of the femur joins with the pelvic bone).

Distal - away from or farthest from the trunk or the point or origin of a part (example, the hand is located at the distal end of the forearm).

Planes of the Body

Coronal Plane (Frontal Plane) - A vertical plane running from side to side; divides the body or any of its parts into anterior and posterior portions.

Sagittal Plane (Lateral Plane) - A vertical plane running from front to back; divides the body or any of its parts into right and left sides.

Axial Plane (Transverse Plane) - A horizontal plane; divides the body or any of its parts into upper and lower parts.

Median plane - Sagittal plane through the midline of the body; divides the body or any of its parts into right and left halves.

Illustration of the sagittal, coronal, and transverse planes of the human body

Illustration of the sagittal, coronal, and transverse planes of the human body

Body Cavities

The cavities, or spaces, of the body contain the internal organs, or viscera. The two main cavities are called the ventral and dorsal cavities. The ventral is the larger cavity and is subdivided into two parts (thoracic and abdominopelvic cavities) by the diaphragm, a dome-shaped respiratory muscle.

Illustration of the cavities of the human body

Illustration of the cavities of the human body

Thoracic cavity

The upper ventral, thoracic, or chest cavity contains the heart, lungs, trachea, esophagus, large blood vessels, and nerves. The thoracic cavity is bound laterally by the ribs (covered by costal pleura) and the diaphragm caudally (covered by diaphragmatic pleura).

Abdominal and pelvic cavity

The lower part of the ventral (abdominopelvic) cavity can be further divided into two portions: abdominal portion and pelvic portion. The abdominal cavity contains most of the gastrointestinal tract as well as the kidneys and adrenal glands. The abdominal cavity is bound cranially by the diaphragm, laterally by the body wall, and caudally by the pelvic cavity. The pelvic cavity contains most of the urogenital system as well as the rectum. The pelvic cavity is bounded cranially by the abdominal cavity, dorsally by the sacrum, and laterally by the pelvis.

Dorsal cavity

The smaller of the two main cavities is called the dorsal cavity. As its name implies, it contains organs lying more posterior in the body. The dorsal cavity, again, can be divided into two portions. The upper portion, or the cranial cavity, houses the brain, and the lower portion, or vertebral canal houses the spinal cord.

The content and media on this page are for demonstration purposes only. The content provided on this page has been borrowed from the National Cancer Institute. The original content can be found at this link: https://training.seer.cancer.gov/anatomy/

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Introduction to the Human Body

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Human beings are arguably the most complex organisms on this planet. Imagine billions of microscopic parts, each with its own identity, working together in an organized manner for the benefit of the total being. The human body is a single structure but it is made up of billions of smaller structures of four major kinds:

Cells

Cells have long been recognized as the simplest units of living matter that can maintain life and reproduce themselves. The human body, which is made up of numerous cells, begins as a single, newly fertilized cell.

Tissues

Tissues are somewhat more complex units than cells. By definition, a tissue is an organization of a great many similar cells with varying amounts and kinds of nonliving, intercellular substance between them.

Organs

Organs are more complex units than tissues. An organ is an organization of several different kinds of tissues so arranged that together they can perform a special function. For example, the stomach is an organization of muscle, connective, epithelial, and nervous tissues. Muscle and connective tissues form its wall, epithelial and connective tissues form its lining, and nervous tissue extends throughout both its wall and its lining.

Systems

Systems are the most complex of the component units of the human body. A system is an organization of varying numbers and kinds of organs so arranged that together they can perform complex functions for the body. 

Body Functions

Body functions are the physiological or psychological functions of body systems. The body's functions are ultimately its cells' functions. Survival is the body's most important business. Survival depends on the body's maintaining or restoring homeostasis, a state of relative constancy, of its internal environment.

More than a century ago, French physiologist, Claude Bernard (1813-1878), made a remarkable observation. He noted that body cells survived in a healthy condition only when the temperature, pressure, and chemical composition of their environment remained relatively constant. Later, an American physiologist, Walter B. Cannon (1871-1945), suggested the name homeostasis for the relatively constant states maintained by the body. Homeostasis is a key word in modern physiology. It comes from two Greek words - "homeo," meaning the same, and "stasis," meaning standing. "Standing or staying the same" then is the literal meaning of homeostasis. However, as Cannon emphasized, homeostasis does not mean something set and immobile that stays exactly the same all the time. In his words, homeostasis "means a condition that may vary, but which is relatively constant."

Homeostasis depends on the body's ceaselessly carrying on many activities. Its major activities or functions are responding to changes in the body's environment, exchanging materials between the environment and cells, metabolizing foods, and integrating all of the body's diverse activities.

The body's ability to perform many of its functions changes gradually over the years. In general, the body performs its functions least well at both ends of life - in infancy and in old age. During childhood, body functions gradually become more and more efficient and effective. During late maturity and old age the opposite is true. They gradually become less and less efficient and effective. During young adulthood, they normally operate with maximum efficiency and effectiveness.

Life Process

All living organisms have certain characteristics that distinguish them from non-living forms. The basic processes of life include organization, metabolism, responsiveness, movements, and reproduction. In humans, who represent the most complex form of life, there are additional requirements such as growth, differentiation, respiration, digestion, and excretion. All of these processes are interrelated. No part of the body, from the smallest cell to a complete body system, works in isolation. All function together, in fine-tuned balance, for the well being of the individual and to maintain life. Disease such as cancer and death represent a disruption of the balance in these processes.

The following are a brief description of the life process:

Organization

At all levels of the organizational scheme, there is a division of labor. Each component has its own job to perform in cooperation with others. Even a single cell, if it loses its integrity or organization, will die.

Metabolism

Metabolism is a broad term that includes all the chemical reactions that occur in the body. One phase of metabolism is catabolism in which complex substances are broken down into simpler building blocks and energy is released.

Responsiveness

Responsiveness or irritability is concerned with detecting changes in the internal or external environments and reacting to that change. It is the act of sensing a stimulus and responding to it.

Movement

There are many types of movement within the body. On the cellular level, molecules move from one place to another. Blood moves from one part of the body to another. The diaphragm moves with every breath. The ability of muscle fibers to shorten and thus to produce movement is called contractility.

Reproduction

For most people, reproduction refers to the formation of a new person, the birth of a baby. In this way, life is transmitted from one generation to the next through reproduction of the organism. In a broader sense, reproduction also refers to the formation of new cells for the replacement and repair of old cells as well as for growth. This is cellular reproduction. Both are essential to the survival of the human race.

Growth

Growth refers to an increase in size either through an increase in the number of cells or through an increase in the size of each individual cell. In order for growth to occur, anabolic processes must occur at a faster rate than catabolic processes.

Differentiation

Differentiation is a developmental process by which unspecialized cells change into specialized cells with distinctive structural and functional characteristics. Through differentiation, cells develop into tissues and organs.

Respiration

Respiration refers to all the processes involved in the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the cells and the external environment. It includes ventilation, the diffusion of oxygen and carbon dioxide, and the transport of the gases in the blood. Cellular respiration deals with the cell's utilization of oxygen and release of carbon dioxide in its metabolism.

Digestion

Digestion is the process of breaking down complex ingested foods into simple molecules that can be absorbed into the blood and utilized by the body.

Excretion

Excretion is the process that removes the waste products of digestion and metabolism from the body. It gets rid of by-products that the body is unable to use, many of which are toxic and incompatible with life.

The ten life processes described above are not enough to ensure the survival of the individual. In addition to these processes, life depends on certain physical factors from the environment. These include water, oxygen, nutrients, heat, and pressure.

The content and media on this page are for demonstration purposes only. The content provided on this page has been borrowed from the National Cancer Institute. The original content can be found at this link: https://training.seer.cancer.gov/anatomy/

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Anatomy & Physiology

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This is an example of a Module resource. Modules are comprised of lessons and h5p resources. Resources are added to the Module's Table of Contents to create a bundled resource.

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Introduction

The Anatomy and Physiology module introduces the structure and function of the human body. You will read about the cells, tissues and membranes that make up our bodies and how our major systems function to help us develop and stay healthy.

In this module you will learn to:

  • Describe basic human body functions and life process.
  • Name the major human body systems and relate their functions.
  • Describe the anatomical locations, structures and physiological functions of the main components of each major system of the human body.
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Remix of Functions and Function Notation

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Learning Objectives

In this section, you will:

  • Determine whether a relation represents a function.
  • Find the value of a function.
  • Determine whether a function is one-to-one.
  • Use the vertical line test to identify functions.
  • Graph the functions listed in the library of functions.

A jetliner changes altitude as its distance from the starting point of a flight increases. The weight of a growing child increases with time. In each case, one quantity depends on another. There is a relationship between the two quantities that we can describe, analyze, and use to make predictions. In this section, we will analyze such relationships.

Determining Whether a Relation Represents a Function

A relation is a set of ordered pairs. The set consisting of the first components of each ordered pair is called the domain and the set consisting of the second components of each ordered pair is called the range. Consider the following set of ordered pairs. The first numbers in each pair are the first five natural numbers. The second number in each pair is twice that of the first.

$$\{(1,\text{ }2),\text{ }(2,\text{ }4),\text{ }(3,\text{ }6),\text{ }(4,\text{ }8),\text{ }(5,\text{ }10)\}$$

The domain is \(\{1,\text{ }2,\text{ }3,\text{ }4,\text{ }5\}\). The range is \(\{2,\text{ }4,\text{ }6,\text{ }8,\text{ }10\}\).

Note that each value in the domain is also known as an input value, or independent variable, and is often labeled with the lowercase letter \(x\). Each value in the range is also known as an output value, or dependent variable, and is often labeled lowercase letter \(y\).

A function \(f\) is a relation that assigns a single value in the range to each value in the domain. In other words, no x-values are repeated. For our example that relates the first five natural numbers to numbers double their values, this relation is a function because each element in the domain, \(\{1, 2, 3, 4, 5\}\), is paired with exactly one element in the range, \(\{2, 4, 6, 8, 10\}\).

Now let’s consider the set of ordered pairs that relates the terms “even” and “odd” to the first five natural numbers. It would appear as

$$\{{(\text{odd},\text{ }1),\text{ }(\text{even},\text{ }2),\text{ }(\text{odd},\text{ }3),\text{ }(\text{even},\text{ }4),\text{ }(\text{odd},\text{ }5)}\}$$

Notice that each element in the domain, \(\{even, odd\}\) is not paired with exactly one element in the range, \(\{1, 2, 3, 4, 5\}\). For example, the term “odd” corresponds to three values from the range, \(\{1, 3, 5\}\) and the term “even” corresponds to two values from the range, \(\{2, 4\}\). This violates the definition of a function, so this relation is not a function.

Figure 1 compares relations that are functions and not functions.

Three relations that demonstrate what constitute a function.

Figure 1 (a) This relationship is a function because each input is associated with a single output. Note that input  q  and  r  both give output  n.  (b) This relationship is also a function. In this case, each input is associated with a single output.

Functions

function is a relation in which each possible input value leads to exactly one output value. We say “the output is a function of the input.”

The input values make up the domain, and the output values make up the range.

Examples

Given a relationship between two quantities, determine whether the relationship is a function.

Using Function Notation

Once we determine that a relationship is a function, we need to display and define the functional relationships so that we can understand and use them, and sometimes also so that we can program them into computers. There are various ways of representing functions. A standard function notation is one representation that facilitates working with functions.

To represent “height is a function of age,” we start by identifying the descriptive variables \(h\) for height and \(a\) for age. The letters \(f\), \(g\), and \(h\) are often used to represent functions just as we use \(x, y\), and \(z\) to represent numbers and \(A, B\), and \(C\) to represent sets.

$$ \begin{array}{lcccc}h\text{ is }f\text{ of }a&&&&\text{We name the function }f;\text{ height is a function of age}.\\h=f(a)&&&&\text{We use parentheses to indicate the function input}\text{. }\\f(a)&&&&\text{We name the function }f;\text{ the expression is read as “}f\text{ of }a\text{.”}\end{array} $$

Remember, we can use any letter to name the function; the notation \(h(a)\) shows us that \(h\) depends on \(a\). The value a  a must be put into the function \(h\) to get a result. The parentheses indicate that age is input into the function; they do not indicate multiplication.

We can also give an algebraic expression as the input to a function. For example \(f(a+b)\) means "first add a and b, and the result is the input for the function f." The operations must be performed in this order to obtain the correct result.

Function Notation

The notation \(y=f(x)\) defines a function named \(f\). This is read as "\(y is a function of x\)". The letter \(x\) represents the input value, or independent variable. The letter \(y\), or \(f(x)\), represents the output value, or dependent variable.

Practice Quiz

Content for this page has been sourced from OpenStax - Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/algebra-and-trigonometry/pages/1-introductio…

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A demonstration of the MathJax authoring capabilities. Content for this page has been sourced from OpenStax - Access for free at https://openstax.org/books/algebra-and-trigonometry/pages/1-introduction-to-prerequisites

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