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ANIMAL CELLS: Page 1  Page 2

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Teachers, Students, Home School Scholars, and Inquiring Minds of all ages --

With Animal Cells we look at the specialized function of different cell types and what they do in the body.  These specialized functions are reflected in special proteins and organelles - sometimes just found in greater numbers than found in other animal cells.

For example, the heart cell is a muscle cell and therefore contains specialized proteins called 'actin' and 'myosin'.  These proteins are arranged in fibers that slide back and forth so that the full length of the fibers are either long (relaxed) or short (contracted).  It takes energy in the form of ATP to do the work of contraction and therefore muscle cells have a high number of mitochondria.  Mitochondria are the organelles that make ATP for use in cells as an energy source.  They make ATP by breaking down sugar into CO2.

Heart cells are specialized muscle cells and function automatically - as opposed to a voluntary motion, such as walking.

Another specialized cell discussed is the white blood cell which is necessary for  killing bacteria that get into the body  - also known as an 'infection'.  These cells have a super abundance of plasma membrane.  While not usually thought of as an organelle, the plasma membrane is an amazingly complex and highly functional part of any cell.  In the case of white blood cells, the plasma membrane contains the proteins that recognize bacteria.  These specialized proteins are able to track down the bacteria, make the white blood cell actually move to the bacteria, and then engulf the bacteria.  Other specialized organelles then fuse with the plasma membrane and dump highly toxic enzymes right up next to the bacteria so they will be killed.

Again, we see the interdependence of different forms of life on earth.  Plants use light to turn carbon dioxide into sugar -- animals eat the plants and break the sugar back down to carbon dioxide to make ATP which they use for energy.

 

ANIMAL CELLS: Page 1  Page 2

Animal Cell Links of choice:
Virtual Cell - Cell Biology textbook with great graphics
Wikipedia - DNA replication
Cells Alive - animal cell

Learn more! Google:
cell science projects
homework help
animal cells
cell models
science curriculum

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