LEARNING OBJECTIVES

  1. Make sure you understand cell specialisation and know that many cells have a specific functions.
  2. Understand that cells develop into different subcellular structures as they differentiate into an organism and that is how they become specialised.
  3. Understand that cells can have different functions depending on their structure.
  4. Know that many animal cells lose the ability to differentiate at an early stage, but many plant cells never lose this capability.
  5. Mature animals usually use cell division as the main way to replace and repair cells.
  6. The cell structure of a sperm cell, nerve cell and muscle cells is different in animals. The root hair cells, xylem and phloem cells in plants also have different structures.


Cell Differentiation and Specialisation

Not all cells in an organism do the same job. The cell's structure is related to the job it does, so cell structures vary from one another. This differentiation in structure leads to many cell types with different shapes and functions. When cells express specific genes that characterise a certain type of cell we say that a cell has become differentiated.



Specialised cells

Specialised cells are cells in the body that do just a few specific things. They help break down food, they help fight infection, and they make hormones. The majority of cells in an organism are specialised and have a designated function. Depending on its responsibility, a cell can look different to suit its specific purpose. For example, certain cells may have evolved different structures mainly due to their function more so than other parts of the body.



Cell differentiation

When a cell expresses specific genes that characterise a certain type of cell, it is said to have differentiated. Once cells differentiate, they only produce the proteins characteristic for that type of cell.

Specialised cells are important for the differentiation of living organisms. They differentiate into a cell that performs a particular function in the body and lead to more efficient functioning. Specialisation does come at a cost.
When a cell becomes different or specialised for a process such as reproduction, it loses the ability to produce copies of itself. Multicellular organisms require cells able to do this task, so they maintain some unspecialised cells that can replenish the others. These are called stem cells.

Anatomy of human cells. Cellular Differentiation of Human Cells

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