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Note for Biotechnology - B by Abhimanyu Dash

  • Biotechnology - B
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NPTEL – Biotechnology – Cell Biology Module1-Lecture 1 Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic cells To venture into biology lets start with the cell!!! In this chapter we will learn about what is a cell and further explore what a prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell is. The cell was first seen by Robert Hooke in 1665 using a primitive, compound microscope. He observed very thin slices of cork and saw a multitude of tiny structures that he resembled to walled compartments of a monk. Hence, named them cells. Hooke's description of these cells was published in Micrographia. The cell is smallest unit of a living system and fall in the microscopic range of 1 to 100 µm. They attain various shapes and sizes to attain variety of functions. The understanding of cell is necessary to understand the structure and function of a living organism. One of most important characteristics of cell is ability to divide. The existence of a cell indicates that it has evolved from an already existing cell and further it can give rise to a new cell. This was first stated by Theodor Schwann. Pioneering work by Theodor Schwann, Matthias Jakob Schleiden on cells, gave birth to the cell theory. Their theory states: 1. All living things are made of cells. 2. Cells are the basic building units of life. 3. New cells are created by old cells dividing into two. In 1855, Rudolf Virchow added another point to the theory and concluded that all cells come from pre-existing cells, thus completing the classical cell theory. The cell theory holds true for all living things, no matter how big or small, or how simple or complex. Viruses are exception to the cell theory. Cells are common to all living beings, and provide information about all forms of life. Because all cells come from existing cells, scientists can study cells to learn about growth, reproduction, and all other functions that Joint initiative of IITs and IISc – Funded by MHRD Page 1 of 169

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NPTEL – Biotechnology – Cell Biology living things perform. By learning about cells and how they function, we can learn about all types of living things. Classification of cells: All living organisms (bacteria, blue green algae, plants and animals) have cellular organization and may contain one or many cells. The organisms with only one cell in their body are called unicellular organisms (bacteria, blue green algae, some algae, Protozoa, etc.). The organisms having many cells in their body are called multicellular organisms (fungi, most plants and animals). Any living organism may contain only one type of cell either A. Prokaryotic cells; B. Eukaryotic cells. The terms prokaryotic and eukaryotic were suggested by Hans Ris in the 1960’s. This classification is based on their complexcity. Further based on the kingdom into which they may fall i.e the plant or the animal kingdom, plant and animal cells bear many differences. These will be studied in detail in the upcoming sections. Prokaryotic cells Prokaryote means before nucleus in Greek. They include all cells which lack nucleus and other membrane bound organelles. Mycoplasma, virus, bacteria and cyanobacteria or blue-green algae are prokaryotes. Most prokaryotes range between 1 µm to 10 µm, but they can vary in size from 0.2 µm to 750 µm (Thiomargarita namibiensis). They belong to two taxonomic domains which are the bacteria and the archaea. Most prokaryotes are unicellular, exceptions being myxobacteria which have multicellular stages in their life cycles. They are membrane bound mostly unicellular organisms lacking any internal membrane bound organelles. A typical prokaryotic cell is schematically illustrated in Figure 1. Though prokaryotes lack cell organelles they harbor few internal structures, such as the cytoskeletons, ribosomes, which translate mRNA to proteins. Membranous organelles are known in some groups of prokaryotes, such as vacuoles or membrane systems devoted to special metabolic properties, e.g., photosynthesis or chemolithotrophy. In addition, some species also contain protein-enclosed microcompartments, which have distinct physiological roles (carboxysomes or gas vacuoles). Joint initiative of IITs and IISc – Funded by MHRD Page 2 of 169

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NPTEL – Biotechnology – Cell Biology Figure 1: Schematic diagram of a prokaryotic cell The individual structures depicted in Figure 1 are as follows and details will be discussed in forthcoming chapters: Flagella: It is a long, whip-like protrusion found in most prokaryotes that aids in cellular locomotion. Besides its main function of locomotion it also often functions as a sensory organelle, being sensitive to chemicals and temperatures outside the cell. Capsule: The capsule is found in some bacterial cells, this additional outer covering protects the cell when it is engulfed by phagocytes and by viruses, assists in retaining moisture, and helps the cell adhere to surfaces and nutrients. The capsule is found most commonly among Gram-negative bacteria. Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae Haemophilus influenzae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Salmonella are some examples Gram-negative bacteria possessing capsules. Whereas examples of Gram positive bacteria are Bacillus megaterium, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus pyogenes. Cell wall: Cell wall is the outermost layer of most cells that protects the bacterial cell and gives it shape. One exception is Mycoplasma which lacks cell wall. Bacterial cell walls are made of peptidoglycan which is made from polysaccharide chains cross-linked by unusual peptides containing D-amino acids. Bacterial cell walls are different from the cell walls of plants and fungi which are made of cellulose and chitin, respectively. The cell wall of bacteria is also distinct from that of Archaea, which do not contain peptidoglycan. Joint initiative of IITs and IISc – Funded by MHRD Page 3 of 169

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NPTEL – Biotechnology – Cell Biology The cell wall is essential to the survival of many bacteria. The antibiotic penicillin is able to kill bacteria by preventing the cross-linking of peptidoglycan and this causes the cell wall to weaken and lyse. Lysozyme enzyme can also damage bacterial cell walls. There are broadly speaking two different types of cell wall in bacteria, called Gram-positive and Gram-negative (Figure 2). The names originate from the reaction of cells to the Gram stain, a test long-employed for the classification of bacterial species. Gram-positive bacteria possess a thick cell wall containing many layers of peptidoglycan and teichoic acids. In contrast, Gram-negative bacteria have a relatively thin cell wall consisting of a few layers of peptidoglycan surrounded by a second lipid membrane containing lipopolysaccharides and lipoproteins. These differences in structure can produce differences in property as antibiotic susceptibility. For example vancomycin can kill only Gram-positive bacteria and is ineffective against Gram-negative pathogens, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa or Haemophilus influenzae. A: Gram positive cell wall B: Gram negative cell wall Figure 2: A: Gram positive bacterial cell wall B: gram negative bacterial cell wall Joint initiative of IITs and IISc – Funded by MHRD Page 4 of 169

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