Feb. 24th, 2009

litch: (Default)
The great thing about the web is that you can get lost following a train of thought and find yourself somewhere wonderful

I was reading FoFs and [livejournal.com profile] nancylebov mentioned cellular vaults and asked about obvious blankspots in our understanding of the world. I started to list a couple I knew about and was about to add that I didn't think we yet understood something as fundamental as what initiates cell division but I wasn't sure so I tried to do a quick google dive before I made a fool of myself (there have been a lot of advances in the last decade).

Wikipedia quickly led me to this google book about the cell cycle. It started discussing intracellular organelles & structures I had some familiarity with like mitochondria, ribosomes, & mitotic spindles. It also discussed other structures I had only a vague idea of or which I was was flat unfamiliar with but had some beautiful sounding names like golgi apparatus and the various forms of endoplasmic reticulum (I just love that word, say it out loud, let it roll around in your mouth). I began reading about them and was trying to get a better idea of how they all fit inside the cell and realized I was wanting a nice visualization of the cellular cytoplasm.

This being the web I found this gorgeous video. It needs a voiceover explaining what you're seeing, my understanding (and feel free to correct me if you know better) is that we start with an actual electron microscopy image of a mammalian cell, swoop down and into a false color representation of the cell itself and are presented with the large black nuclear envelope studded with nuclear pores on the right side of the screen. A blue walled purple mitochondria swims into frame from the left and we follow it along to the light blue/grey rough endoplasmic reticulum. We move out from there to where we see the red/gold smooth endoplasmic reticulum. Within the endoplasmic reticulum proteins are being put together and folded into shape according to the direction of RNA templates (which are in turn fabricated from our DNA withing the cell nucleus). After the initial construction, the proteins surrounded by the reticulum's membrane separate into a transport vesicle which floats out to the green golgi apparatus that further processes the proteins. They work their way through the various cistaerae of the golgi apparatus where each one does a particular task like some sort of microscopic factory until it reaches the trans-golgi and break off and go on to be used where they are need inside or outside the cell.

It's a video of life at it's most fundamental level.


litch: (Default)

May 2009

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