Chapter 4: Cells The Working Units of Life

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1 Chapter Review 1. Most cells are quite small. Limits on cell size are related to limits on the rate of movement of good stuff in and bad stuff out across cell membranes. Movement rates are greatly influenced by the surface-area-to-volume ratio of the cells. Imagine three cube-shaped cells, similar to what you saw in FIGURE 4.2 in the text. Given the dimensions shown for each cube-shaped cell here, calculate that cell s surface area, its volume and its surface-area-to-volume ratio. 600 µm 2 2,400 µm 2 60,000 µm 2 1,000 µm 3 8,000 µm 3 1,000,000 µm 3 3:5 3:10 3: : : : 1 EXTRA: Now you are ready to solve the problem of circular cells on p. 59 of the text. 2. As the amount of a toxin increases around the outside of the three cube-shaped cells in the above diagram, which size of cell would be the first to have an enriched concentration of the toxin in its center (core) region? Explain your answer using the surface-area-to-volume ratio. The smallest cell would be first, because of its greater surface area relative to its volume. The toxin would have greater opportunity to enter the cell because of this ratio. 3. Use the provided logarithmic scale to determine how many 100 μm cells would you have to stack on top of each other to make the stack as tall as an athlete of 2 m height (hint: 2m =? μm)? It would take 20, µm cells stacked on top of each other to make the stack as tall as an athlete who is 2 m in height. EXTRA: How many 10 μm prokaryotic cells would be needed for the same objective? It would take 200, µm cells stacked on top of each other to make the stack as tall as an athlete who is 2 m in height.

2 4. Explain how prokaryotes carry out enzymatically-catalyzed biochemical conversions without the use of cellular organelles. The cytoplasm within a prokaryote is not a static environment; substances within it are in constant motion. This constant movement of proteins throughout the cytoplasm helps ensure that biochemical reactions proceed at rates sufficient to meet the requirements of the cell. The enzymes that are in the prokaryote s cytoplasm function readily in this solution. 5. Describe, in general terms, the structural components of ribosomes, including a brief explanation of their function. Explain whether ribosomes are present only in eukaryotes, only in prokaryotes, or in both eukaryotes and prokaryotes. Ribosomes are complexes of RNA and proteins that are about 25 nm in diameter, visible only using electron microscopy. Their function is protein synthesis, and they are present in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes, as all members of both groups dependent on the functions of proteins. 6. Humans, perhaps unjustly, claim credit for inventing the wheel. Discuss the argument that prokaryotes with flagella long preceded the human invention of the wheel. Some prokaryotes can swim using appendages called flagella, which are made of the protein flagellin. A complex motor-protein spins each flagellum on its axis, like a propeller, moving the cell along in its liquid environment. Since prokaryotes such as these preceded humans in the evolutionary timetable, they should be assigned credit for the invention of the wheel. 7. Some models of the cell show it as a plastic bag full of alphabet soup with a golf ball thrown to represent the nucleus. Discuss how this model is not a good representation of a cell, and be sure you discuss the cytoskeleton in your answer. The plastic bag model is not an apt description of a cell, because it implies that cells are essentially unorganized and amorphous. In fact, some prokaryotes possess a cytoskeleton, which a network of filamentous structures that provide a constant shape and some rigidity. Also, membranes or folds within prokaryotes divide sections of the cell into functional areas, not the random array suggested in the plastic bag model. The membranes of cells also have regulated trans-membrane traffic. 8. Many hormonal signals, for example, insulin, are proteins secreted by cells. Describe the structure and function of as many cellular organelles as you can in regard to the synthesis and secretion of protein signals. RER (rough endoplasmic reticulum) rough because of numerous ribosomes attached to its outer surface. In RER, proteins are synthesized and can be chemically modified or tagged for delivery to specific cellular regions. SER (smooth endoplasmic reticulum) structure is more tubular, and it does not contain ribosomes on its surface. SER is a storage site for the calcium ions that are likely part of the trigger for secretion of proteins that are secreted by cells, e.g., insulin secretion from a pancreatic cell. Golgi apparatus a complex comprised of two components: flattened membranous sacs and small membrane-enclosed vesicles. This organelle concentrates, packages, sorts, and occasionally modifies proteins prior to sending them to specific cellular or extracellular destinations. Ribosomes large complex molecule, not membrane-enclosed, that can be found freely in cytosol or associated with endoplasmic reticulum. Ribosomes are responsible for the formation of proteins from amino acids, translating the messenger RNA code. Ribosomes synthesize proteins needed by all parts of the cell, including other organelles.

3 9. Identify the two primary groups of molecules that interact to become ribosomes, and include a description of where ribosomes are synthesized in eukaryotic cells. Ribosomes are formed by the interaction of one to three large RNA molecules called ribosomal RNA (rrna) and multiple smaller protein molecules. In eukaryotic cells, ribosome synthesis can occur in both the cytoplasm and the nucleolus, a structure found inside the cell nucleus. 10. It s your turn to be the teacher. One of your fellow classmates tells you that: The mitochondrion is the site where ingested glucose molecules are made into ATP molecules. Kindly point out the error of your classmate s statement by offering a statement that is more correct. Hint: is glucose biochemically converted to ATP? The breakdown of glucose begins in the cytosol. The molecules that result from this partial degradation enter the mitochondrion, which then convert the chemical energy of those molecules into a form that the cell can use, specifically ATP. It is more accurate to describe this process as a transfer of energy from glucose molecules by breaking them down into smaller molecules. ATP synthesis occurs via substrate phosphorylation at some steps, while some other steps generate substrates that drive oxidative phosphorylation for ATP synthesis. 11. Describe how the movement of a paramecium using cilia is similar to and different from that of an amoeba. Differences: The movement of an amoeba is a slower and less precise directionally, as the microfilaments in its pseudopods work to extend the cytoplasm in a flowing motion called cytoplasmic streaming. The paramecium is capable of movement in a more precise manner, as it can coordinate the beating of its cilia to propel itself either forward or backward in a spiraling manner. The paramecium can also react quickly when it encounters a barrier or negative stimulus, unlike the amoeba. During movement, the amoeba changes shape, while the paramecium retains its more rigid form. Similarities: The locomotive structures of both of these protozoans (pseudopods in the amoeba and cilia in the paramecium) are made of cytoskeletal components. Although motility in the amoeba is a more primitive process than that of the paramecium, both organisms move in response to certain stimuli, indicating that their locomotion is adaptive, i.e., serves a useful function. 12. Compare eukaryotic flagella and cilia in terms of structural size and in number present on a flagellar (Euglena) and a ciliated (Paramecium) cell. Cilia µm in length. They are present by the hundreds and move stiffly to propel the organism. Flagella 100 to 200 µm in length, so much longer than cilia. They occur singly or in pairs and can push or pull the organism through it aqueous environment. 13. The longest cells of eukaryotes, as you might guess, are found as neurons in giraffes. Such cells can be 2 or more meters in length. The length of such cells results in an impressive mechanism for moving proteins from one end of the cell to the other. Describe the intracellular transport system, including vesicles, microtubules, and motor-proteins, for such long and thin cells. A neuron has a long extension called an axon. Molecules made in the cell s main body, where the nucleus is located, must travel an especially long distance in the neck to reach the end of the axon. The axon is lined with microtubules that act as a train-track-like framework along which motor proteins move materials within the cell. Motor proteins carry protein-laden vesicles from one part of the cell to another. These proteins bind to a vesicle or other organelle, then walk it along the microtubule by a repeated series of shape changes.

4 14. Correct and expand upon this statement: Adjacent plant cells are joined together by walls made up of only phospholipid molecules and proteins. Cell walls in plants are composed of cellulose fibers embedded in a matrix of polysaccharides and proteins. Adjacent plant cells are connected by numerous plasma membrane-lined channels, called plasmodesmata, made up of cytoplasmic bands about nm in diameter that extend through the cell walls. Plasmodesmata allow water, ions, small molecules, hormones, and even some RNA and protein molecules to move between connected cells. This form of intercellular communication integrates a plan organ composed of thousands of cells. 15. Correct and expand on this statement: Sugar molecules hold adjacent animal cells together. Animal cells are held together by an extracellular matrix that is composed of two components. The fibrous component is made up of the protein collagen, and the gel-like matrix consists of proteoglycans, which are glycoproteins with long carbohydrate side chains. A third group of proteins links the collagen and the proteoglycan matrix together. Proteins also connect the cell s plasma membrane to the extracellular matrix. These proteins span the plasma membrane and have two binding sites, one of the interior of the cell, usually to microfilaments in the cytoplasm just below the cell surface, and the other to collagen in the extracellular matrix. The role for sugars in the association between adjacent cells is that the glycoproteins (proteins with sugary endings) are part of cellular-recognition mechanisms. 16. Specialized connections between adjacent cells in your heart hold them together closely so that blood does not leak out between the cells as the heart pumps. The pressure of pumping would blow apart adjacent cells were they not held tightly together by a second specialized connection. Furthermore, coordinated pumping activity of these cells relies on a third specialization between these cells. Describe how these three types of intercellular connections work together for the functioning of the heart. Specialized structures protrude from adjacent cells to glue them together in organs such as the heart. There are three types of junctions: (1) Tight junctions Proteins of tight junctions form a type of quilted seal, barring the movement of dissolved materials through the space between the cells. (2) Desmosomes These are stable protein connections that are knitted together between adjacent cells; materials can move through this extracellular matrix. They provide mechanical stability for tissues under stress. (3) Gap junctions These are similar to plasmodesmata in plants, providing porelike channels between adjacent cells, allowing cytosolic substances to pass from the inside of one cell to its neighbot. In the heart, gap junctions allow the rapid spread of electric current (via ion movements) so the heart muscle cells can beat in unison. 17. What do the characteristics of modern cells tell us about how the first cells originated? Using your knowledge of cellular organelles, create a model (flow chart) showing the steps involved with eukaryotic cells evolving from a chemical rich environment.

5 Science Practices & Inquiry 18. Calculate the SA:V ratio for a cube whose dimensions are typical of an eukaryotic cell, one that is 0.1 mm on a side. Explain why bacteria need to divide well before they get this large. Area of one side of cube: 0.1 mm x 0.1 mm = 0.01 mm 2 Surface area of cube: 0.01 mm 2 x 6 sides on cube = 0.06 mm 2 Volume of cube: 0.1 mm x 0.1 mm x 0.1 mm = mm 3 SA:V ratio = 0.06 : = 60:1 Cell volume determines the amount of metabolic activity a cell can carry out per unit of time. The surface area determines the amount of substances that can enter it from the outside environment and the amount of waste products that can exit to the environment. As a cell increases in size, its metabolic activity, and thus its need for resources and rate of waste production, increases faster than its surface area. The rate of flow of substances in and out of a cell is inversely proportional to the size of the cell. Therefore, cells must maintain a large surface area-to=volume ratio in order to function. This is especially important for bacterial cells. While eukaryotic cells contain specialized organelles to intensively carry out cellular activities, bacterial cells are not as differentiated, so they rely on the import and export of materials through their plasma membranes. If a bacteria cell became too large, the smaller SA:V ratio would be insufficient to allow adequate movement of materials across the cell membrane, and the cell would not be able to maintain the required level of metabolic activity and elimination of waste. For these reasons, prokaryotic cells tend to have the highest SA:V ratios of any cells. Lower SA:V ratios adversely affect the diffusion of nutrients and waste products across the bacterial cell membrane by limiting the rate of metabolism, and this presents an evolutionary disadvantage. Thus, cell division before bacterial cells grow as large a typical eukaryotic cell allows bacteria to maintain a sufficiently high enough rate of metabolism to thrive.

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