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CHAPTER 4

A Tour of the Cell

Detailed Lecture Outline


I. Biology and Society: Drugs That Target Cells (Figure 4.1)
A. Antibiotics (Biology and Society on the Web: Learn about the
downside of antibiotic use)
1. Antibiotics are drugs that disable or kill infectious bacteria.
2. Most are naturally occurring chemicals derived from other
microorganisms. For example, penicillin was originally isolated
from
mold in 1928 and has been widely prescribed since the 1940s.
3. Many diseases were drastically reduced when antibiotics were
introduced, saving millions of lives by treating disease such as
pneumonia and surgical infections.
B. The goal of treatment with antibiotics is to kill invading bacteria
while causing minimal harm to the human host.
1. How does the antibiotic recognize its bacterial target among
trillions of human cells?
a. Most antibiotics bind only to structures found in bacterial cells.
(1) Erythromycin binds to part of bacterial ribosomes but not
human ribosomes, because of structural differences in
these organelles.
(2) The antibiotics streptomycin, tetracycline, and
chloramphenicol also target bacterial ribosomes.
b. The antibiotic ciprofloxacin works by targeting an enzyme that
bacteria (but not humans) need to maintain their chromosome
structure. This antibiotic received a lot of recent attention
because it may be the most effective drug against anthrax-
causing bacteria.
c. Penicillin, ampicillin, and bacitracin work by disrupting the
synthesis of cell walls, a structural characteristic of many
bacteria that is entirely absent in human cells.
2. To understand how life on Earth works, we first need to learn
about cells.
a. All organisms are made of cells.
b. Cells are the building blocks of all life.
c. Cells are as fundamental to biology as atoms are to chemistry.
d. Cells are the smallest entity that exhibits all the characteristics

of life.
II. The Microscopic World of Cells
A. Introduction
1. Cells must be tiny for materials to move into and out of them fast
enough to meet the cell’s metabolic needs.
2. Cells are more complex than anything humans have built.
3. Organisms are either single-celled, such as most bacteria and
protists, or multicellular, such as plants, animals, and most fungi.
4. Your own body is a cooperative society of trillions of cells of many
different specialized types. Examples are:
a. the muscle cells that move your arms and legs,
b. the nerve cells that control your muscles, and
c. the red blood cells that carry oxygen to your muscles and
nerves.
5. Every action and every thought reflects processes occurring at
the cellular level.
B. Microscopes as Windows to Cells (Figures 4.2–4.3)
1. Human understanding of nature often parallels the invention and
refinement of instruments that extend human senses to new
limits.
a. Light microscopes (LM)s are common in laboratories.
(1) Visible light is passed through a biological specimen.
(2) Glass lenses enlarge and project the image.
b. Magnification versus resolving power
(1) Magnification increases an object’s apparent size compared to its actual
size.
(2) Resolving power is:
(a) the clarity of the magnified image or
(b) the ability to see two objects as separate.
c. Resolving power varies depending upon the type of
microscope. The resolving power of LMs is about 0.2
micrometers (mm or
microns) (1 mm 5 1/1,000 mm).
(1) A micron is about the diameter of a small bacterial cell.
(2) Useful magnification is limited to about 10003.
d. The human eye can resolve images that are as close as
1/10 millimeters (mm).
2. In 1665, Robert Hooke used a microscope to describe cells in thin
slices of cork (bark of an oak).
a. For the next two centuries, scientists found cells in every
organism they examined with a microscope.
b. By the mid-1800s, this accumulation of evidence led to the cell
theory, which includes the induction that all living things are
composed of cells.
c. Cell theory was later expanded to include the notion that all
cells arise from previously existing cells (a topic covered in
Chapter 8).
3. In the 1950s, biologists began using electron microscopes (EM)s
(Activity 4A on the Web & CD: Review the metric system).
a. The EM uses beams of electrons and
b. has better resolution, 0.2 nanometers (nm).
(1) 1 nm 5 1/1,000,000 mm, or 1/1,000 mm.
(2) This is a thousandfold improvement over the light
microscope.
(3) The period at the end of this sentence is about a million
times bigger than an object 0.2 nm in diameter.
c. The TEM (see below) has useful magnification of over
100,0003—enough to see organelles and their parts within a
cell.
d. Two kinds of EMs are now widely used.
(1) The scanning electron microscope (SEM) reveals cell
surfaces.
(2) The transmission electron microscope (TEM) helps explore
internal cell structure.
4. Studying living specimens: Light Microscope versus Electron
Microscope (Case Study in the Process of Science on the Web &
CD: Explore the relative sizes of objects from the Earth-sized to
the subcellular)
a. EMs rely upon preserved specimens.
b. LMs can study living or preserved specimens.
C. The Two Major Categories of Cells (Figures 4.4–4.5)
1. Two basic kinds of cells evolved on Earth.
a. Bacteria and archaea consist of prokaryotic cells.
b. All other organisms—protists, plants, fungi, and animals,
including humans—are composed of eukaryotic cells (Activity
4B on the Web & CD: Review prokaryotic cell structure).
3. Prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells differ in several important
respects (Figure 4.4).
a. Prokaryotic cells are smaller, about 1/10 the size of a typical
eukaryotic cell.
b. As indicated in the fossil record, prokaryotes are older in an
evolutionary sense.
(1) The first prokaryotes appeared on Earth over 3.5 billion
years ago.
(2) The first eukaryotes did not appear until around 1.5 billion
years ago.
c. Prokaryotic cells are structurally simpler.
(1) Prokaryotic cells lack any internal structures that are
surrounded by membranes.
(2) Eukaryotic cells have several membrane-enclosed
organelles.
(3) The nucleus of a eukaryotic cell, surrounded by a nuclear
membrane, houses most of the cell’s genetic material, its
DNA.
(4) Prokaryotic cells lack such a nucleus; its DNA is coiled in a
nucleoid region, which, unlike a true nucleus, is not
partitioned from the rest of the cell by a membrane.
d. The interior of a prokaryotic cell is like an open warehouse.
(1) There are distinct spaces where specific tasks are
performed.
(2) These spaces are not physically separated from each
other.
e. A eukaryotic cell, on the other hand, is like a modern office
that is divided into cubicles.
(1) Within each cubicle, a specific function is performed.
(2) A eukaryotic cell thus divides the labor of life among many
internal compartments.
(3) The cubicle boundaries within cells are made from
membranes that help maintain a unique chemical
environment inside.
(4) With a few exceptions, only eukaryotic cells have
membrane-enclosed organelles.
4. Prokaryotes will be studied in detail in Chapter 15. Eukaryotic
cells are the focus of this chapter.
D. A Panoramic View of Eukaryotic Cells (Figure 4.6)
1. Figure 4.6 provides a panoramic view of two idealized eukaryotic
cells, one animal cell and one plant cell.
a. Plant and animal cells both have:
(1) a very thin outer plasma membrane, which regulates the
traffic of molecules between the cells and their
surroundings,
(2) a nucleus, a membrane-enclosed organelle that contains
genes, and
(3) cytoplasm, the region between the nucleus and plasma
membrane consisting of organelles suspended in a fluid,
the cytosol.
b. The structure of each organelle has become adapted during
evolution to perform specific functions.
c. Most of the organelles are enclosed by membranes, but some
are not (Activity 4C on the Web & CD: Test your understanding
of different types of cells).
2. Most organelles are found in both plant and animal cells (Activity
4D on the Web & CD: Build an animal cell and a plant cell).
a. Chloroplasts are found in plant but not animal cells.
Chloroplasts convert light energy to the chemical energy of
food.
b. Plant cells have walls exterior to the plasma membrane.
c. Some prokaryotes have cell walls, but animal cells do not.
That is why cell walls are a good target for antibiotics like
penicillin.
III. Membrane Structure and Function
A. The plasma membrane
1. It is the edge of life, the boundary that separates the living cell
from its nonliving surroundings.
2. It is a remarkably thin film, 1/8,000 the thickness of a page in
your book.
3. The key to how a membrane works is its structure.
B. A Fluid Mosaic of Lipids and Proteins (Figures 4.7–4.8)
1. The plasma membrane and other membranes of the cell are
composed mostly of lipids and proteins.
2. The lipids are phospholipids.
a. They are related to dietary fats but have only two fatty acids
instead of three (see Figure 3.15).
(1) A phospholipid has a phosphate group (PO42, a
combination of phosphorus and oxygen) in place of the
third fatty acid.
(2) The phosphate group is electrically charged, which makes
it hydrophilic (“water-loving”).
(3) The rest of the phospholipid, consisting of two fatty acids,
is hydrophobic (“water-fearing”).
(4) Thus phospholipids have a kind of chemical ambivalence
in their interactions with water.
(a) The phosphate group “head” mixes with water, while
the fatty acid “tails” avoid it.
(b) This difference makes phospholipids good membrane
material.
b. By forming a two-layered membrane, or phospholipid bilayer,
the hydrophobic parts of the molecules hide from water, while
the hydrophilic portions are wet (Activity 4E on the Web & CD:
Use what you have learned to label a diagram of a
membrane).
Teaching Tip: The hydrophobic and hydrophilic ends of a phospholipid
molecule naturally create a lipid bilayer. The hydrophobic edges of the layer will
naturally seal to other such edges, eventually wrapping a sheet into a sphere that
can enclose water (a simple cell). Further, because of these hydrophobic
properties, lipid bilayers are naturally self-healing. That all of this organization
naturally emerges from the properties of phospholipids is worth sharing with your
students.
3. Most membranes have specific proteins embedded in the
phospholipid bilayer.
4. The phospholipids and most of the proteins are free to drift about
in the plane of the membrane in what is called a fluid mosaic.
a. It is called fluid because the molecules can move freely past
one another.
b. The term mosaic represents the diversity of proteins that float
like icebergs in the phospholipid sea.
C. Selective Permeability
1. The plasma membrane and other membranes of the cell are
selectively permeable (Activity 4F on the Web & CD: See how
different molecules get through the plasma membrane).
a. A membrane therefore permits some substances to cross more
easily than others and blocks the passage of some substances
altogether.
b. The plasma membrane allows the cell to take up such
materials as oxygen and nutrients and to dispose of wastes
such as carbon dioxide.
c. The traffic of some substances can only occur through
avenues called transport proteins, which are among the
specialized proteins built into membranes. The sugar glucose,
for example, requires a transport protein to move it into the
cell.
2. Controlling the passage of materials across membranes is an
important function of all cells, and we’ll explore it in detail in
Chapter 5.
IV. The Nucleus and Ribosomes: Genetic Control of the Cell (Figures 4.9–
4.10)
A. Introduction
1. If we think of the cell as a factory, then the nucleus is its
executive boardroom.
2. Genes, the inherited DNA molecules, direct almost all the
activities of the cell.
a. A gene is a specific stretch of DNA that contains the code for
the structure of a specific protein.
b. Genes store the information necessary to produce proteins,
which then do most of the actual cell work.
B. Structure and Function of the Nucleus
1. The nucleus is bordered by a double membrane called the nuclear
envelope, similar in structure to the plasma membrane. Pores
through the envelope allow material to move between the
nucleus and the
cytoplasm.
2. Within the nucleus, long DNA molecules and associated proteins
form long fibers called chromatin.
a. Each long fiber constitutes one chromosome.
b. The number of chromosomes in a cell depends upon the
species.
3. In addition to chromosomes, the nucleus contains the nucleolus, a
ball-like mass of fibers and granules that produces ribosome
parts.
C. Ribosomes (Figure 4.9)
1. Ribosomes are assembled from parts made in the nucleus and
transported to the cytoplasm through nuclear pores.
2. Ribosomes are either suspended in the cytosol or attached to the
endoplasmic reticulum.
a. Suspended ribosomes make enzymes and other proteins that
remain in the cytosol.
b. Attached ribosomes make proteins destined to be incorporated
into membranes or secreted by the cell.
D. How DNA Controls the Cell—How do the DNA “executives” in the
nucleus direct the “workers” in the cytoplasm (Figure 4.10)?
1. A gene transfers its coded information to messenger RNA
(mRNA).
2. Molecules of mRNA leave the nucleus through pores in the
nuclear envelope.
3. The mRNA, like a middle manager, carries the order to “build this
type of protein” from the nucleus to the cytoplasm (Activity 4G on
the Web & CD: Get an overview of protein synthesis).
4. Chapter 10 will explain how the message is translated into a
protein.
V. The Endomembrane System: Manufacturing and Distributing Cellular
Products
A. The endomembrane system includes the endoplasmic reticulum, the
Golgi apparatus, lysosomes, and vacuoles.
B. The Endoplasmic Reticulum (Figures 4.11–4.12)
1. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is one of the main manufacturing
facilities (in the factory analogy).
2. The ER is an extensive, membranous labyrinth of tubes and sacs
that separates its internal compartment from the surrounding
cytosol.
Teaching Tip: The endoplasmic reticulum is continuous with the outer nuclear
membrane. This explains why the ER is usually found close to the nucleus.
3. There are two distinct regions of ER, rough ER and smooth ER,
that are physically connected but with different structures and
functions.
a. Rough ER has attached ribosomes.
(1) Rough ER ribosomes produce two types of proteins,
(a) membrane proteins and
(b) secretory proteins.
(2) Some rough ER products are sent to other locations via
transport vesicles that bud from the ER.
b. Smooth ER lacks the ribosomes that populate the surface of
rough ER (Figure 4.11).
c. Enzymes in the smooth ER membrane perform many functions
including:
(1) the synthesis of lipids, including steroids such as the
hormones produced by the testes and ovaries, and
(2) the detoxification of drugs and other poisons in the
bloodstream by cells such as liver cells.
(a) Cells increase the amount of smooth ER when regularly
exposed to toxins (including drugs), thereby increasing
the tolerance to those toxins.
(b) Tolerance to one drug may decrease the effectiveness
of other drugs. For example, a tolerance of
barbiturates may decrease the effectiveness of certain
antibiotics.
C. The Golgi Apparatus (Figure 4.13)
1. The Golgi apparatus (named for its discoverer, Italian scientist
Camillo Golgi) is analogous to a refinery, warehouse, and shipping
center.
2. The Golgi apparatus receives products from the ER and refines,
stores, and distributes these materials to:
(1) the plasma membrane or
(2) other organelles.
3. The Golgi is believed to chemically tag protein products to mark
their final destination within the cell.
D. Lysosomes (Figure 4.14)
1. A lysosome is a membrane-enclosed sac of digestive enzymes.
2. Lysosomes are found in animal cells but are absent from most
plant cells.
3. Lysosomal enzymes break down proteins, polysaccharides, fats,
and nucleic acids.
4. The lysosome is a compartment where these strong enzymes can
function without damaging the cell.
5. Lysosomes have several types of digestive functions.
a. Lysosomes fuse with the food vacuoles, exposing the nutrients
to hydrolytic enzymes that digest them. The small molecular
products of digestion, such as amino acids, leave the lysosome
and nourish the cell.
b. Lysosomes, in cells such as white blood cells, destroy harmful
bacteria.
c. Lysosomes serve as recycling centers for damaged organelles.
d. Lysosomes play vital roles in embryonic development. For
example, lysosomal enzymes destroy cells that comprise the
webbing that joins the fingers of early human embryos.
6. Abnormal lysosomes are associated with hereditary disorders
called lysosomal storage diseases.
a. In these diseases, one of the digestive enzymes is missing in
the lysosomes.
b. These diseases are rare in the population.
c. The lysosomes accumulate indigestible substances, eventually
interfering with other cellular functions.
d. These diseases are often fatal in early childhood.
e. Tay-Sachs disease, which ravages the nervous system, is an
example.
(1) Diseased lysosomes lack a lipid-digesting enzyme.
(2) Nerves cells in the brain are damaged as they accumulate
lipids.
E. Vacuoles (Figures 4.15–4.16)
1. Vacuoles are membranous sacs that bud from the ER, Golgi, or
plasma membrane.
2. There are different kinds of vacuoles:
a. food vacuoles,
b. contractile vacuoles in certain freshwater protists that function
as pumps to expel excess water that flows into the cell from
the outside environment, and
c. central vacuoles, which can make up more than half the
volume in a mature plant cell and have four general functions:
(1) store nutrients, such as proteins in seeds,
(2) contribute to growth by absorbing water and causing cells
to expand,
(3) contain pigments that attract pollinating insects, and
(4) contain poisons that protect against plant-eating animals.
3. Figure 4.16 reviews how the organelles of the endomembrane
system are interrelated (Activity 4H on the Web & CD: Trace the
movement of a protein through the endomembrane system).
VI. Chloroplasts and Mitochondria: Energy Conversion
A. Chloroplasts (Figure 4.17)
1. Most of the living world runs on the energy provided by
photosynthesis,
a. for example, the conversion of light energy from the sun to
b. the chemical energy of sugar and other organic molecules.
2. Chloroplasts are the organelles of plants and protists that perform
photosynthesis.
3. Internal membranes partition the chloroplast into three major
compartments:
a. the space between the inner and outer membranes,
b. the stroma, the thick fluid within the chloroplast, and
c. a deep, interior network of membrane-enclosed tubes and
disks occurring in stacks called grana (singular, granum),
where light energy is trapped and converted to chemical
energy.
4. Chloroplast functions will be explored in Chapter 7.
B. Mitochondria (Figure 4.18)
1. Mitochondria (singular, mitochondrion) are the sites of cellular
respiration in which energy from sugar (and other food molecules)
is converted to adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
a. Cells use ATP as the energy source for most of their work.
b. Mitochondria are found in almost all eukaryotic cells.
2. Mitochondria have two membranes (Activity 4I on the Web & CD:
Build a chloroplast and a mitochondrion).
a. There is an outer membrane and
b. an inner membrane with many infoldings called cristae.
(1) Enzymes and other molecules that function in cellular
respiration are built into the inner membrane.
(2) The cristae increase the surface area of this membrane
and maximize ATP output.
3. Chapter 6 examines how mitochondria convert food energy to ATP
molecules.
VII. The Cytoskeleton: Cell Shape and Movement (Figures 4.19–4.20)
A. The cytoskeleton is a network of fibers extending throughout the
cytoplasm that functions like the beams and floor joists in a house.
B. Maintaining Cell Shape
1. The cytoskeleton provides shape to cells that lack cell walls.
2. The cytoskeleton contains several types of fibers made from
different types of protein.
a. Microtubules are straight, hollow tubes composed of globular
proteins called tubulins.
b. The cytoskeleton provides anchorage and reinforcement for
many organelles in a cell similar to the way that the bony
skeleton of your body helps fix the positions of your organs.
(1) The nucleus is often held in place by a cytoskeletal cage
of filaments.
(2) Other organelles move along tracks made from
microtubules. For example, a lysosome might reach a food
vacuole by moving along a microtubule.
(3) Microtubules also guide the movement of chromosomes
when cells divide.
3. While providing support like an animal’s skeleton, the cell’s
cytoskeleton is more dynamic.
a. It can quickly dismantle in one part of the cell by removing
protein subunits and re-form in a new location by reattaching
the subunits.
b. Such rearrangement can provide rigidity in a new location,
change the shape of the cell, or even cause the whole cell or
some of its parts to move.
c. This process contributes to the amoeboid (crawling) motions of
the protist Amoeba and some of our white blood cells.
C. Cilia and Flagella (Figure 4.20)
1. Cilia and flagella are motile appendages—extensions from a cell
that aid in locomotion (Activity 4J on the Web & CD: See an
animation of a flagellum moving).
a. Flagella (singular, flagellum) propel the cell by an undulating
whiplike motion. They often occur singly, such as in the sperm
cells of humans and other animals.
b. Cilia (singular, cilium) are generally shorter and more
numerous than flagella and promote movement by a
coordinated back-and-forth motion, like the rhythmic oars of a
galley ship.
c. Cilia or flagella propel many protists through water.
d. Though different in length, number per cell, and beating
pattern, cilia and flagella have the same basic architecture
(see Figure 1.9).
2. Some cilia or flagella extend from nonmoving cells that are part of a tissue
layer.
a. They function to move fluid over the surface of the tissue.
b. The ciliated lining of your windpipe helps cleanse your
respiratory system by sweeping mucus with trapped debris out
of your lungs.
(1) Tobacco smoke, whether inhaled first- or secondhand,
inhibits and destroys cilia.
(2) With fewer functioning cilia, more toxins accumulate in
the respiratory tract.
(3) Frequent coughing—common in heavy smokers—then
becomes the body’s attempt to cleanse its respiratory
system.
3. Human sperm rely on flagella for movement.
a. Sperm with malfunctioning flagella are unable to travel up the
female reproductive tract to fertilize the ovum (egg).
b. Some males with a certain type of hereditary sterility also
suffer from respiratory problems.
(1) The symptoms result from the common structure of
flagella and cilia.
(2) Due to a defect in the structure of the flagella and cilia of
these males,
(a) their sperm don’t swim, and
(b) their cilia do not sweep mucus.
VIII. Cell Surfaces: Protection, Support, and Cell-Cell Interactions
A. Introduction
1. Most cells secrete materials for coats of one kind or another that
are external to the plasma membrane.
2. These extracellular coats help to:
a. protect and support cells and
b. facilitate interactions between neighboring cells.
B. Plant Cell Walls and Cell Junctions (Figure 4.21)
1. Cell walls:
a. protect the cell,
b. maintain its shape, and
c. restrain the cell from absorbing so much water that it would
pop.
2. Plasmodesmata pass through cell walls, thereby:
a. interconnecting the cytoplasm,
b. allowing water and other small molecules to move between
neighboring cells, and
c. integrating the activities of the tissue.
3. Plant cell walls are strong enough to hold even the tallest trees up
against the pull of gravity.
a. Plant cell walls are made from cellulose fibrils embedded in a
matrix of other molecules (ground substance).
b. This is the same architectural design found in steel-reinforced
concrete and in fiberglass.
c. The design permits strength and flexibility needed in:
(1) a tree swaying back and forth in a strong breeze, and
(2) in lumber as a building material.
C. Animal Cell Surfaces and Cell Junctions (Figure 4.22)
1. Animal cells lack cell walls, but most secrete a sticky coat called
the extracellular matrix (Activity 4K on the Web & CD: Watch
animations of plant and animal cell junctions). This matrix:
a. holds cells together in tissues and
b. has protective and supportive functions.

2. Adjacent cells in many animal tissues are interconnected by cell junctions


(Activities
a. Tight junctions bind cells together tightly, forming a leakproof
sheet.
b. Anchoring junctions attach cells with fibers but still allow
nutrients to pass.
c. Communicating junctions allow water and other small
molecules to flow between neighboring cells.
IX. Evolution Connection: The Origin of Membranes (Figure 4.23)
A. One of the earliest episodes in the evolution of life on Earth may
have been the formation of membranes (Evolution Connection on the
Web: Learn what prelife membranes may have been like).
B. A selectively permeable membrane allows cells to regulate their
chemical exchanges with the environment by:
1. enclosing a solution of different composition from the surrounding
solution and
2. allowing the uptake of nutrients and elimination of waste
products.
C. Phospholipids were probably among the organic molecules that
formed by chemical reactions on a prebiological Earth.
1. When mixed with water, phospholipids spontaneously self-
assemble into membranes.
2. This requires no genes or other information except the unique
characteristics of the phospholipids.
D. The origin of membranes on a primordial Earth may have been an
early step in the evolution of the first cells and the formation of the
first life.