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cell thory

by Sankar Maity

Cell theory states that cells are the fundamental units of life, that all living things are composed of one or more cells, and that all cells arise from preexisting cells through cell division.[48] Most cells are very small, with diameters ranging from 1 to 100 micrometers and are therefore only visible under a light or electron microscope.[49] There are generally two types of cells: eukaryotic cells, which contain a nucleus, and prokaryotic cells, which do not. Prokaryotes are single-celled organisms such as bacteria, whereas eukaryotes can be single-celled or multicellular. In multicellular organisms, every cell in the organism's body is derived ultimately from a single cell in a fertilized egg.


Cell structure


Structure of an animal cell depicting various organelles

Every cell is enclosed within a cell membrane that separates its cytoplasm from the extracellular space.[50] A cell membrane consists of a lipid bilayer, including cholesterols that sit between phospholipids to maintain their fluidity at various temperatures. Cell membranes are semipermeable, allowing small molecules such as oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water to pass through while restricting the movement of larger molecules and charged particles such as ions.[51] Cell membranes also contains membrane proteins, including integral membrane proteins that go across the membrane serving as membrane transporters, and peripheral proteins that loosely attach to the outer side of the cell membrane, acting as enzymes shaping the cell.[52micrometers and are therefore only visible under a light or electron microscope.[49] There are generally two types of cells: eukaryotic cells, which contain a nucleus, and prokaryotic cells, which do not. Prokaryotes are single-celled organisms such as bacteria, whereas eukaryotes can be single-celled or multicellular. In multicellular organisms, every cell in the organism's body is derived ultimately from a single cell in a fertilized egg.


Cell structure


Structure of an animal cell depicting various organelles

Every cell is enclosed within a cell membrane that separates its cytoplasm from the extracellular space.[50] A cell membrane consists of a lipid bilayer, including cholesterols that sit between phospholipids to maintain their fluidity at various temperatures. Cell membranes are semipermeable, allowing small molecules such as oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water to pass through while restricting the movement of larger molecules and charged particles such as ions.[51] Cell membranes also contains membrane proteins, including integral membrane proteins that go across the membrane serving as membrane transporters, and peripheral proteins that loosely attach to the outer side of the cell membrane, acting as enzymes shaping the cell.[52] Cell membranes are involved in various cellular processes such as cell adhesion, storing electrical energy, and cell signalling and serve as the attachment surface for several extracellular structures such as a cell wall, glycocalyx, and cytoskeleton.



Structure of a plant cell

Within the cytoplasm of a cell, there are many biomolecules such as proteins and nucleic acids.[53] In addition to biomolecules, eukaryotic cells have specialized structures called organelles that have their own lipid bilayers or are spatially units.[54] These organelles include the cell nucleus, which contains most of the cell's DNA, or mitochondria, which generates adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to power cellular processes. Other organelles such as endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus play a role in the synthesis and packaging of proteins, respectively. Biomolecules such as proteins can be engulfed by lysosomes, another specialized organelle. Plant cells have additional organelles that distinguish them from animal cells such as a cell wall that provides support for the plant cell, chloroplasts that harvest sunlight energy to produce sugar, and vacuoles that provide storage and structural support as well as being involved in reproduction and breakdown of plant seeds.[54] Eukaryotic cells also have cytoskeleton that is made up of microtubules, intermediate filaments, and microfilaments, all of which provide support for the cell and are involved in the movement of the cell and its organelles.[54] In terms of their structural composition, the microtubules are made up of tubulin (e.g., α-tubulin and β-tubulin whereas intermediate filaments are made up of fibrous proteins.[54] Microfilaments are made up of actin molecules that interact with other strands of proteins.[54]All cells require energy to sustain cellular processes. Energy is the capacity to do work, which, in thermodynamics, can be calculated using Gibbs free energy. According to the first law of thermodynamics, energy is conserved, i.e., cannot be created or destroyed. Hence, chemical reactions in a cell do not create new energy but are involved instead in the transformation and transfer of energy.[55] Nevertheless, all energy transfers lead to some loss of usable energy, which increases entropy (or state of disorder) as stated by the second law of thermodynamics. As a result, an organism requires continuous input of energy to maintain a low state of entropy. In cells, energy can be transferred as electrons during redox (reduction–oxidation) reactions, stored in covalent bonds, and generated by the movement of ions (e.g., hydrogen, sodium, potassium) across a membrane.


Metabolism is the set of life-sustaining chemical reactions in organisms. The three main purposes of metabolism are: the conversion of food to energy to run cellular processes; the conversion of food/fuel to building blocks for proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, and some carbohydrates; and the elimination of metabolic wastes. These enzyme-catalyzed reactions allow organisms to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures, and respond to their environments. Metabolic reactions may be categorized as catabolic—the breaking down of compounds (for example, the breaking down of glucose to pyruvate by cellular respiration); or anabolic—the building up (synthesis) of compounds (such as proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acids). Usually, catabolism releases energy, and anabolism consumes energy.


The chemical reactions of metabolism are organized into metabolic pathways, in which one chemical is transformed through a series of steps into another chemical, each step being facilitated by a specific enzyme. Enzymes are crucial to metabolism because they allow organisms to drive desirable reactions that require energy that will not occur by themselves, by coupling them to spontaneous reactions that release energy. Enzymes act as catalysts—they allow a reaction to proceed more rapidly without being consumed by it—by reducing the amount of activation energy needed to convert reactants into products. Enzymes also allow the regulation of the rate of a metabolic reaction, for example in response to changes in the cell's environment or to signals from other cells.

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