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Cell Theory

− Living organisms are composed of cells

− Cells are the smallest unit of life
− Cells come from pre-existing cells

Unicellular organisms carry out all the functions of life:

− metabolism
− response
− homeostasis
− growth
− reproduction
− nutrition

Size units and relative sizes

10-3 of a metre = 1 millimetre
10-3 of a millimetre = 1 micrometre
10-6 of a millimetre = 1 nanometre

Molecules Membrane Viruses Bacteria Organelles Cells

1nm 10nm 100nm 1µm up to 10µm up to 100µm

Surface Area to Volume Ratio

As an organism increases in size, its surface area to volume ratio.

− The surface area of a cell provides the exchange surface for heat and substances.
− The more cytoplasm, the more heat and waste products generated and the greater the demand for
oxygen and nutrients.
− In order to overcome this:
− Plant cells develop a large central vacuole
− Instestinal cells have microvilli
− Leaf palisade cells are column shaped

Emergent Properties

− Multicellular organisms show emergent properties.

− Emergent properties arise from the interaction of component parts: The whole organism is greater
than the sum of its parts.


− Cells become different in order to specialise in a particular function

− Cells in a multicellular organism are produced by mitosis so each cell has all the chromosomes and
the genes.
− Some of these genes are switched off because they code for irrelevant functions.
− Stem cells retain the capacity to divide and have the ability to differentiate along the different
Therapeutic Use of Stem Cells

− Leukemia is the cancer of white blood cells (leukocytes)

− Leukocytes are made in the bone marrow from multipotent adult stem cells
− Multipotent adult cells can only differentiate into a group of related cells such as, in this case blood
− The leukocytes are released into the blood stream to fight infection
− Leukemia is when these cells grow abnomally
− Chemotherapy is use to kill the bone marrow cells as well as the abnormal cells.
− A sample donor or bone marrow containing stem cells is introduced into the patients blood.
− The stem cells migrate to the bone marrow and start to produce healthy leukocytes.

Prokaryotic Cells

Structure Function
Cell wall Protection
Plasma membrane Controls transfer of substances in and out of the
Cytoplasm Site of metabolic activities
Plasmid Small rings of DNA
Ribosomes Site of protein synthesis
Nucleoid Contains naked DNA which is the store of genetic
Pili Short hair-like structures which can be changed in
length. Used for:
- adhering to surfaced and other bacteria
- exchanging DNA with other bacteria during
Flagella Long threads used for swimming which require

Prokaryotic cells divide by binary fission

Eukaryotic Cells

Structure Function
Ribosomes Site of protein synthesis
Lysosome Store of hydrolysing enzymes that are released if the cell dies. Also
used by phagocytes to digest ingested particles.
Rough endoplasmic reticulum Transport and packing of the protein into vesicles which has been
synthesised by the attached ribosomes.
Centrioles Involved in spindle fibre formation during cell division
Nuclear pore Allows exchange of substances between nucleoplasm and
Golgi apparatus and vesicles Modifies and repacks proteins from the RER into vesicles
Mitochondrion Site of oxidative or aerobic respiration
Nucleus Contains chromosomes and carry the genetic information
Nuclear envelope A double membrane with nuclear pores to allow exchange between
nucleoplasm and cytoplasm

Comparing prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells

Prokaryotic Cell Eukaryotic Cell

Naked DNA DNA wrapped around proteins
DNA in cytoplasm DNA enclosed by nuclear envelope
DNA circular DNA linear
No membrane bound structures Membrane bound structures such as mitochondria,
endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus present which
compartmentalise functions.
Plasmids present No plasmids
Ribosomes smaller (70s) Ribosomes larger (80s)
Differences between plant and animal cells

Plant Cells Animal Cells

Cellulose cell wall No cellulose cell wall
Mature cells usually contain a large vacuole No large central vacuole but small vacuoles may
be present in the cytoplasm
No cholesterol in plasma membrane Cholesterol present in plasma membrane
No centrioles Centrioles present
Store starce Store glygogen
May contain chloroplasts Never contain chloroplasts

Extracellular components

Plant cells
Cellulose cell wall –
 Maintains shape
 Prevents excess water uptake by osmosis
 supports plant against force of gravity

Animal cells
Secreted glycoproteins form the extracellular matrix which functions in –
 Support (bone and cartilage cells are embedded in the matrix)
 Adhesion – skin cells sit on a sheet of proteoglycan (protein and polysaccharide
 Movement.


 There is always a water solution on each side of the membrane, so the hydrophilic head of the
phospholipid must be next to the solution. It will always want to be next to the water because of
the hydrogen bonds it forms with the water.
 The hydrophobic tails will want to remain in contact with each other due to the hydrophocis
Functions of membrane proteins

 Hormone receptor
 Active transport
 Diffusion channel
 Electron Carrier
 Immobilised enzymes
 Cell adhesion
 Cell-to-cell communications


Diffusion is the passive movement of particles from a region of high concentration to a region of low
concentration. A membrane is not essential.

Passive – no energy from ATP used.


The passive movement of water molecules across a partially permeable membrane from a region of
lower solute concentration to a region of higher solute concentration.

Facilitated Diffusion

Some substances have to pass through protein channels that have a hydrophilic core. The channels are
specific and have a binding site for the transported substance.

Active Transport

 Always uses energy from ATP.

 ATP hydrolysed to ADP + Pi
 Transports against a concentration gradient
 Requires and integral protein transporter in the membrane
 Transport of substance requires a change in the shape of the protein
 The protein transporter has a specific binding site for the transported substance
 Some pumps transport two substances, either in the same direction (symport) or in opposite
directions (antiport). An example of the latter is neurons.

Endocytosis and Exocytosis

 Phagocytosis takes in particles

 Pinocytosis takes in solution
 Phagocytosis and pinocytosis are both forms of endocytosis
 Energy from ATP is required

 In endocytosis, the plasma membrane folds inwards to form a vesicle which buds off
 Exocytosis removes substances from the cell. This includes secretion.
 In exocytosis a vesicle in the cytoplasm joins to the plasma membrane

Transport vesicles

 Vesicles bud off rER

 Vesicles move through cytoplasm and join onto one side of the Golgi apparatus
 Vesicles bud off other side of Golgi
 Vesicles may move to plasma membrane for secretion of contents
 Vesicle may remain in cytoplasm as a lysosome and fuse with a phagocytic vesicle
Membrane Fluidity

− The phospholipids are held together by mutual attraction and not by chemical bonds.
− The hydrophobic tails are flexible.
− This allows the membrane to bend easily, break and rejoin.
− Unsaturated fatty acid chains make a membrane more fluid.
− Cholesterol makes a membrane less fluid by reducing the movement of the hydrophobic tails.

Cell Division

The cell cycle

> Interphase – G1, S and G2

> Mitosis or M phase
> Cytokinesis

Tumours are the result of uncontrolled cell division. They can occur in any organ or tissue.

Interphase is an active period in the life of a cell when many metabolic reactions occur, including protein
synthesis, DNA replication and an increase in the number of mitochondria and chloroplasts.

 G1 (gap 1) – the longest phase. Synthesis of biochemicals (protein, mRNA, tRNA), replication of
 S (synthesis) – DNA replication
 G2 (gap) – synthesis of microtubule components; centrioles in animal cells replicate;
mitochondria and chloroplasts replicate.


Phase Key Points

Prophase  Replicated DNA undergoes multiple coiling (supercoiling) and become visible
under the light microscope.
 Spindle microtubules start to form.
 Nuclear envelope breaks down.

Metaphase  Chromosomes move to central plate (equator) of the cell

 Microtubule network completed.
 Microtubules attach to centromeres.
Anaphase  Centromeres split.
 Microtubules contract.
 Chromosomes pulled to opposite poles
Telophase  Chromosomes uncoil
 Spindle fibres break down
 Nuclear envelope reforms
The two DNA molecules formed by replication are called sister chromatids until the centromere splits at
the start of anaphase. After this they are individual chromosomes.