Welcome to THE CORE. Most of biology is connected via some very fundamental principles of how a typical cell works. These 4 pages condense and clearly explains these principles. Once you've read through THE CORE, you will find it much easier to follow all the pages in WHAT BIOLOGISTS DO and THE CONTEXT, as many biological topics in the media stem from these basic principles. You can also use this page as a launch pad to dip into other topics you might want to read about, look for speech bubbles and hyperlinks to other pages and educational media - and get in contact if you can't find one for a topic you'd like to read about!
CELLS AND PROTEINS
Fun fact: scientists at the Sanger institue has created a 'Human Cell Atlas' that has an entry for every type of cell in the human body!
Cytoskeleton = fibres made of protein that hold a cell's shape
Amino acid = a certain type of carbon-containing molecule
There are 3.7 x 10 cells in the average human body. All living things are made of cells, which you can think of as the ‘building blocks’ of life.
There are about 200 different types of cells in the human body, but many more across all the plant and animals in the world.The science of cell biology is understanding how all these cell types work.
Here’s an example of 2 different types of cells in your body:
Proteins are made of chains of small building blocks called amino acids. These chains can fold up in a huge number of different ways to make a huge variety of 3D proteins. Proteins are used for almost all functions of cells and can look very different - here's 3 examples:
As you can see, cells look very different depending on their function. Most of these specialized shapes and equipment is due to the proteins in that cell. For example, lung cells have lots of channels on their surface so they can secrete mucus to keep your lung surface healthy. They also have a wiggly surface to increase the surface area where they can absorb oxygen from, and this is created from the ‘cytoskeleton’ of the cell (literally, the cell’s skeleton).