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Why is the ribosome so important? 

Written by Josh Carl Vince B. Partosa

The human body consists of organs, each having specific functions. Cells are what make tissues, and tissues then form organs. Similarly, cells have organs of their own called organelles. An important organelle is ribosomes. It is important in the synthesis of protein, a molecule needed for growth and metabolism.

The ribosomes produce protein for both inside and outside of the cell. Without these important structures, metabolism and growth would come to a halt.

These structures assemble amino acids to form proteins. They read and follow the molecular instructions found in ribonucleic acid (RNA). This process is what you call translation.

Within the cell, there are two types of ribosomes. These are membrane-bound and free ribosomes.

You can find membrane-bound ribosomes on the rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER). The attached ribosomes are the reason for the RER’s rough appearance, hence, the name.

They are responsible for producing enzymes, a protein important in metabolism. They speed up chemical reactions in the human body. These reactions can be anabolic (grow and build) or catabolic (break down). One example of enzymes produced by bound ribosomes is digestive enzymes. These are the ones that aid in breaking down the food you eat.

To add, these bound structures also make proteins for cell membranes.

In contrast, free ribosomes are not attached to any structure. You can find them free-floating in the cytosol of the cell. They make proteins that constitute part of the cytoplasm which the cell uses.

To understand the importance of ribosomes, you should know the importance of proteins.

Proteins perform several biological functions. Besides growth and metabolism, they also have other roles.

Some proteins are hormones which are chemical messengers. Meanwhile, some transport or store nutrients. Protein (like keratin, collagen, and elastin) also provides structure. They also maintain fluid balance and proper pH across organ systems.

Furthermore, they keep the immune system healthy and are a form of energy source.

Together, these vital functions make protein an important biomolecule of the human body.

How is a ribosome made?

By now, you have learned that ribosomes synthesize protein. But what synthesizes these protein-producing organelles? How are they made? The answer lies within the nucleus. The nucleolus forms a complex of protein and ribosomal RNA (rRNA) into a ribosome.

The ribosomal structure is not bound by a membrane, unlike many organelles. They consist of 2 parts, the large and the small subunits. In eukaryotes, such as in the human body, these subunits contain about half protein and half rRNA.

In ribosome biogenesis, the part of the cell to look at is the nucleus and the cytoplasm.

Within the nucleus is the nucleolus. It is a specific region where the synthesis of ribosomes takes place.

The cytoplasm contains proteins. As discussed before, ribosomes make proteins that are used in and out of the cell. Some proteins present in the cell’s cytoplasm become part of ribosome biogenesis. You call these biomolecules ribosomal proteins.

These ribosomal proteins go to the nucleolus through the nuclear pores. They go to the nucleus because they contain nuclear localization signals(NLS). NLS is part of the protein’s sequence which mediates their transport to the nucleus.

Once the protein reaches the nucleolus, they combine with the ribosomal RNA. This is a type of RNA that combines with proteins to make the ribosome. The DNA sections of some chromosomes encode this.

Together, they assemble a ribosomal subunit. These units then leave the nucleus through the pores. They unite only for protein synthesis in the cytoplasm. When there is no production of protein, the pairs separate into individual units.

How does the genetic code get to a ribosome?

The previous information has established that ribosome makes protein under RNA instruction. This whole process involves 2 important major steps: transcription and translation.

This journey of the genetic code to the said organelle is complex and controlled. Transcription and translation comprise the process of gene expression.

Transcription occurs within the nucleus. This step involves the replication of a gene’s DNA sequence to make an RNA molecule. It occurs in 3 main stages: initiation, elongation, and termination.

1. Initiation occurs when the enzyme RNA polymerase binds to the promoter, a region of a gene. As a result, the DNA unwinds so the enzyme can ‘‘read’’ the bases in the template strand. This is one of the 2 strands of DNA.

2. Elongation is the part where the mRNA strand gets added with nucleotides. The enzyme RNA polymerase will then read the uncoiled strand of DNA. It then proceeds to create the messenger RNA (mRNA) using complementary base pairs.

The resulting mRNA strand is almost identical to the non-template strand. They differ in that RNA has Uracil instead of Thymine in its nucleotide sequence.

3. Termination is the last stage of transcription. It occurs when the RNA polymerase crosses a stop sequence in the gene. As the mRNA strand is complete, it detaches from DNA.

In eukaryotes, there are extra steps such as end modifications and splicing. End modifications increase the stability while splicing provides the correct sequence.

In transcription, the single-stranded genetic material made is mRNA. Its name describes its function. It delivers the message from the DNA in the nucleus into the cytoplasm.

Translation occurs in the cytoplasm. The mRNA exits the nucleus through its membrane’s pores and connects to the ribosome. Each codon or sequence of 3 nucleotides codes for an amino acid, the building block of protein.

Another RNA comes into the picture, and it is the transfer RNA (tRNA). The tRNA recognizes a complementary mRNA calling for its amino acid.

It then binds its anticodon to the codon. An anticodon is a trinucleotide sequence that complements the codon. The usual start codon which begins translation is the AUG sequence.

As the ribosome moves along the mRNA, the growing protein chain gets 1 new amino acid. Each time, this is accompanied by the release of the tRNA into the cytoplasm. This assembly of protein continues till the organelle meets a stop codon. It can be either of the 3 sequences: UAG, UAA, or UGA.

To aid in understanding this whole process, you can view the figure below.

Why is the ribosome so important? It is important in the synthesis of protein, a molecule needed for growth and metabolism.

Do ribosomes make DNA?

You have learned that ribosomes make protein. But what other substances do ribosomes make? Does it produce DNA? The answer to this question is “No.” The ribosomes do not make deoxyribonucleic acid.

Ribosomes make a protein or amino acid chains. The building blocks of DNA are nucleotides which make up nucleic acids. Although both amino acids and nucleic acids have “acid” in their names, they are not the same. They are different in structure and function.

Amino acids consist of carboxyl and amino groups. Nucleic acids have sugar, nitrogenous base, and a phosphate group. Amino acids form protein while nucleic acids are genetic material.

Because there is no protein in DNA, you can conclude that ribosomes do not make DNA.

If they do not make DNA, what does?

In DNA synthesis or replication, DNA copies itself. Rather than being “produced,” it is replicated. This is important as the new cell needs to be an accurate and precise replica. Otherwise, it might malfunction.

DNA replication for eukaryotes takes place in the nucleus. It occurs during the Synthesis (S) phase before mitosis and cell division. It is a set of very complex mechanisms.

This process requires enzymes like DNA polymerase, primase, helicase, and topoisomerase.

Recalling what you have read before, ribosomes make proteins. Enzymes are proteins. Thus, you can say that ribosomes are indirectly involved in DNA synthesis.

Do ribosomes make lipids?

Ribosomes do not make DNA. But do they make lipids? The answer to this is the same as the former question. No. They do not make lipids.

To reiterate, they make proteins. Moreover, proteins and lipids are also different in both structure and function. So, what organelle makes lipids?

It is the smooth endoplasmic reticulum (ER). It plays a big role in the synthesis of lipids using enzymes. It produces phospholipids and cholesterol that form the membranes.

The smooth ER also plays a role in steroid hormone production and detoxification.

Are ribosomes eukaryotic or prokaryotic?

Eukaryotes and Prokaryotes have characteristics that make them unique from each other. Are ribosomes found only in prokaryotes or eukaryotes? Both of these types of cells contain ribosomes!

This organelle is in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. This affirms that the ribosome is a characteristic that evolved early on. It is most likely present in the common progenitor of both cell types.

Although the organelle is present in both, they have their fair share of differences.

By this time, you know that the nucleolus is the site for eukaryotic ribosome biogenesis. In the case of prokaryotes, biogenesis takes place in the cytoplasm.

Prokaryotes have 70S ribosomes while eukaryotes have larger 80S ones. The S refers to the Svedberg unit, a unit for sedimentation rate. This rate is a measure of the time it will take for a particle to sediment from a solution when centrifuged.

Do viruses have ribosomes?

You can find ribosomes in the cells of living organisms. A virus is something that is not alive. It does not have a cell. Thus, it having those organelles would be unlikely. Viruses do not have ribosomes.

Due to their abnormal reproduction capabilities, you may think they are alive. But they are not. They are parasites in the sense that they hijack cells for reproduction.

Without a host cell, they cannot reproduce. Because they lack ribosomes, they cannot make proteins. Hence, they must use the ribosomes of their host cell to translate viral mRNA into viral proteins.

Despite being alive, it is interesting to note that they contain nucleic acids. This may either be DNA or RNA. Nucleic acids, if you recall, are genetic material found in the cell.

Many speculate that viruses are a form of proto life–that they preceded cellular life. But their inability to survive without a host makes it very unlikely to be the case. Some scientists say that viruses began as segments that became parasitic.

References

9.3 transcription – concepts of biology. OpenStax. (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2022.

Craig Freudenrich, P. D. (2020, October 8). How DNA works. HowStuffWorks Science. Retrieved March 20, 2022.

Davidson, M. W. (n.d.). Virus Structure. Molecular expressions cell biology: Virus structure. Retrieved March 20, 2022.

Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). Ribosome. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved March 20, 2022.

Endoplasmic Reticulum (rough and smooth). British Society for Cell Biology. (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://bscb.org/learning-resources/softcell-e-learning/endoplasmic-reticulum-rough-and-smooth/  

Foundation, C. K.-12. (n.d.). 12 foundation. CK. Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://flexbooks.ck12.org/cbook/ck-12-middle-school-life-science-2.0/section/3.5/primary/lesson/dna-structure-and-replication-ms-ls/

Gray, Carolyn. (2022, March 24). What Are the Benefits of Ribosomes?. sciencing.com. Retrieved from https://sciencing.com/what-are-the-benefits-of-ribosomes-13656686.html

Henderson James (Jim) CleavesII, & author, H. J. J. C. I. I. E. (1970, January 1). Svedberg unit. SpringerLink. Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007/978-3-662-44185-5_5249  

Khan Academy. (n.d.). Molecular mechanism of DNA replication (article). Khan Academy. Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://www.khanacademy.org/science/ap-biology/gene-expression-and-regulation/replication/a/molecular-mechanism-of-dna-replication#:~:text=DNA%20replication%20requires%20other%20enzymes,%2C%20DNA%20ligase%2C%20and%20topoisomerase.  

Khan Academy. (n.d.). Nucleus and ribosomes (article). Khan Academy. Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://www.khanacademy.org/science/biology/structure-of-a-cell/prokaryotic-and-eukaryotic-cells/a/nucleus-and-ribosomes

Khan Academy. (n.d.). Transcription: An overview of DNA transcription (article). Khan Academy. Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://www.khanacademy.org/science/ap-biology/gene-expression-and-regulation/transcription-and-rna-processing/a/overview-of-transcription

Kumar, V. (2021). Introduction to ribosome factory, origin, and evolution of translation. Emerging Concepts in Ribosome Structure, Biogenesis, and Function, 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-12-816364-1.00002-0  

Libretexts. (2021, February 28). 9.2: Transcription. Biology LibreTexts. Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://bio.libretexts.org/Courses/Lumen_Learning/Book%3A_Biology_for_Non-Majors_I_(Lumen)/09%3A_DNA_Transcription_and_Translation/9.02%3A_Transcription

Libretexts. (2021, January 3). 4.6A: Ribosomes. Biology LibreTexts. Retrieved March 20, 2022, from https://bio.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Microbiology/Book%3A_Microbiology_(Boundless)/4%3A_Cell_Structure_of_Bacteria_Archaea_and_Eukaryotes/4.6%3A_Specialized_Internal_Structures_of_Prokaryotes/4.6A%3A_Ribosomes  

Lu, J., Wu, T., Zhang, B., Liu, S., Song, W., Qiao, J., & Ruan, H. (2021). Types of nuclear localization signals and mechanisms of protein import into the nucleus. Cell Communication and Signaling, 19(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12964-021-00741-y  

Marieb, E. N., & Keller, S. M. (2018). Essentials of human anatomy & physiology. Pearson.

Molecular expressions cell biology: Ribosomes. (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2022.

Nave, R. (n.d.). Endoplasmic Reticulum. Retrieved March 20, 2022.

Sturm, N. (n.d.). DNA Synthesis. DNA synthesis. Retrieved March 20, 2022.

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2021, March 26). How do genes direct the production of proteins?: Medlineplus Genetics. MedlinePlus. Retrieved March 20, 2022.

Walle, G. V. D. (2018, June 20). 9 important functions of protein in your body. Healthline. Retrieved March 20, 2022.

YouTube. (2013). Ribosome biogenesis. YouTube. Retrieved March 20, 2022.

What are chromosomes made of?

Written by Jay Ryan L. Jacutin

Chromosomes are one feature of the eukaryotic cell residing within the nucleus. Its DNA in plants and animal cells is a thread-like structure compacted in a tight manner. The DNA floats in a freeway across the cell in respect of bacteria.

They comprise DNA wherein its structural support called histones coils the chromosomes. The derivation of the term chromosomes comes from the Greek word chroma (color) and soma (body). It is due to the staining of cell structures with colorful dyes in research.

The binding of the chromosomes and histones yields nucleosomes, aiding gene regulation. Moreover, the nucleosomes coiled up to form chromatin loops, making complete chromosomes.

A chromosome contains 2 short arms, 2 long arms, and a centromere. The short arm’s denotation is ‘p’ while ‘q’ for long arms. The entirety of the structures holds or maintains themselves at the center.

The DNA encompasses the chromosomes has thousands of genes. They served as the basic physical and functional unit of heredity. They develop and maintain cells and carry the genetic information to offspring.

Humans get 2 copies of each, inherited from both parents. Most genes are the same to humanity, but only a few variations. The gene’s variation contributes to distinguishing a person’s physical features.

What are chromosomes made of?

What are the 23 chromosome pairs?

From a diploid perspective, there are 46 in total in counting chromosomes. From a haploid viewpoint, there are only 23.

For a fact, 22 out of 23 are autosomes, and the remaining pair are sex chromosomes (X and Y). As stated, both parents contribute to one chromosome of each pair for offspring. Female obtains 2 X chromosomes while males have a single X and Y chromosomes.

The genes within are vital for the body’s development, growth, and chemical reactions. Otherwise, abnormalities persist either due to deficiency or excess. Rearrangement of its structure may also be a contributing factor:

Deletions. Missing or deleted segment; deficiency.

Duplications. Duplicated or copied component; excess.

Translocations. Either segment from 2 different or the entire chromosomes attached to another centromere.

Inversions. Discontinuity of the bonded chromosomes turned upside down, inverted. Rings. Discontinuity chromosomes formed circles with or without genetic material loss. Chromosomal abnormalities often occur in cell division:

Mitosis yields to duplication of 2 cells from the original cell. It means a cell containing 46 chromosomes divides and produces 2 identical cells. It happens throughout the body, excluding the reproductive organs.

Meiosis resulted in half number of the chromosomes only instead of the usual total of 46. Unlike mitosis, it occurs now in the reproductive organs creating egg and sperm cells.

Other contributing factors increasing the risk of abnormalities are as follows:

Maternal Age. Aging women have a higher risk of giving birth to babies with abnormal chromosomes.

Environment. No conclusive study shows the specific factors that provoke the said abnormality. There is still a possibility that they play—a role in the occurrence of erroneous processes.

What is the smallest chromosome?

Chromosome 21 is the smallest and has an approximate number of 48 million bonded bases. They represent 1.5 to 2 percent of the DNA’s entirety.

In 2000, Genome Project discovered Chromosome 21 as the second human sequenced pair. It contains 200 to 300 genes that aid in the production of proteins and have various roles in the body.

Chromosomal conditions associated with changes in the structure may yield the following:

Down Syndrome is often caused by trisomy 21, having three copies instead of 2. The extra copy disrupts the normal development of the individual. It also increases the risk of developing seizures, endocrine problems, or Alzheimer’s disease.

Core binding factor acute myeloid leukemia is due to translocation written as t(8:21). The denotation of genetic changes is somatic mutation meaning it is not inherited. Tolerating the production of abnormal leukocytes develops cancerous leukemia cells.

Other Chromosomal Conditions. Any changes in the smallest chromosomes may affect one’s health and development. It may cause intellectual disability, delayed development, and distinctive facial features. Some cases show symptoms incongruent with Down Syndrome.

What is the largest chromosome?

Meanwhile, the largest one is Chromosome 1, with an estimation of 249 million DNA bonded bases. They represent 8 percent of the entire partition of the cell’s DNA. It contains 2,000 to 2,100 genes that aid in the production of proteins and have various roles in the body.

Sudden changes in its structure may lead to chromosomal conditions:

1p36 deletion syndrome occurs when deleted genetic material happens in the ‘p’ arm. The size of the deletion varies to the affected individuals. Signs and symptoms include intellectual disability or distinctive facial features.

1q21.1 microdeletion arises from a deletion part of each cell’s ‘q’ arm. Once affected, individuals are missing with 1.35 million DNA building blocks. Individuals may have delayed development, intellectual disability, and neurological problems.

1q21.1 microduplication is a copied segment on the 2 copies of chromosome 1 in each cell. It involves approximately 1.35 million missing two bond chemical bases. Apart from developmental delays, they may encounter psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia.

Neuroblastoma is a cancerous tumor and an associated disease due to 1p36 deletion. At present, researchers are still studying how it aids in neuroblastoma development.

Thrombocytopenia Absent Radius Syndrome caused by the deletion of 1.q21.1. It eliminates at least 200,000 DNA building blocks from the ‘q’ arm. TAR’s denotation is by the absence of radius in each forearm and platelet shortage.

Other cancers due to chromosomal changes are somatic. ‘p’ arm deletion implies a tumor in the brain and kidneys. Meanwhile, duplication in the ‘q’ arm suggests blood and bone marrow disease.

Are males XY or YY?

Male has an XY pair as they inherited the X chromosome from the mother and Y from the father.

Dissecting the difference, males have an XY pairing during XX for females. In other words, fathers can contribute X or Y while mothers always contribute an X.

In the aspect of its size, Y chromosomes are only one-third of the X size. Meanwhile, Y- carries 55 basic units of hereditary while X- contains 900.

The XY served as a sex-determination system in humans, reptiles, and plants. For a fact, the expression of Y-linked genes is only for males. The other term for the male determining gene of Y is the SRY gene.

Why do we have 2 of every chromosome?

Chromosomes are in pairs because each parent contributes one of its own. Otherwise stated, one chromosomal pair is being inherited from their biological parents. One set for the mother and the other for the father.

If there are 23 chromosomal pairs, there will be 23 from the mother and another 23 for the father. The chromosome sets may inherit the copy of each gene to their children. Hence, 22 of the said bonded chemical bases are autosomes, and the remaining is a sex chromosome.

In maintaining the exact number of chromosomes, they must undergo mitosis. The process involves the division of DNA, yielding 2 identical cells. It ensures the old and new cells have similar genetic makeup and contain the same parent cell number.

Mitosis occurs in non-reproductive somatic cells. In comparison with meiosis, it occurs in sexual reproduction.

For reproduction to come to happen, it creates 4 new daughter cells. It creates 4 new daughter cells with slight distinctive genetic make ensuring diversity. They ended as haploid, meaning they contained half the number of chromosomes.

In contrast, mitosis only splits once since they only create 2 daughter cells. No pairing of homologous chromosomes, unlike meiosis. Thus, the cells produced are identical and end as a diploid with the same number of chromosomes.

How many genes does a chromosome have?

The Human Genome Project was an international collaborative effort in studying human genes.

Based on their findings, the human genome comprises about 3 billion bonded bases. They situate themselves in the chromosomes bond chemical bases within the nucleus.

Furthermore, it specifies the estimation of genes present for about 30,000. The following are the estimation of chromosome pairs according to their number/letter:

  1. About 3,000 basic units of inheritance with an estimation of 240 million base pairs. The determination of two bonded chemical bases is approx 90%.
  2. An estimation of 1900 genes with 200 million base pairs. The determination of two bonded chemical bases is appro 95%.
  3. More or less 1900 basic units of inheritance with 200 million base pairs. The determination of two bonded chemical bases is approx 95%.
  4. Around 1600 genes with 190 million base pairs. The determination of two bonded chemical bases is approx 95%.
  5. About 1700 basic units of inheritance with 180 million base pairs. The determination of two bonded chemical bases is approx 95%.
  6. More or Less 1900 genes with 170 million base pairs. Determination of pairs is approx 95%.
  7. An estimation of 1800 basic units of inheritance with 150 million base pairs. The determination  of  two bonded chemical bases  is  approx  95%.
  8. About 1400 genes with 140 million base pairs. The determination of two bonded chemical bases is approx 95%.
  9. Around 1400 basic units of inheritance with 130 million base pairs. The determination of two bonded chemical bases is approx 85%.
  10. More or Less 1400 genes with 130 million base pairs. The determination of two bonded chemical bases is approx 95%.
  11. About 2000 basic units of inheritance with 130 million base pairs. The determination of two bonded chemical bases is approx 95%.
  12. Around 1600 genes with 130 million base pairs. The determination of two bonded chemical bases is approx 95%.
  13. More or Less 800 basic units of inheritance with 110 million base pairs. The determination of two bonded chemical bases is approx 80%.
  14. About 1200 basic units of inheritance with 100 million base pairs. The determination of two bonded chemical bases is approx 80%.
  15. Around 1200 basic units of inheritance with 100 million base pairs. The determination of two bonded chemical bases is approx 80%.
  16. About 1300 genes with 90 million pairs. The determination of two bonded chemical bases is approx 85%.
  17. More or Less 1600 basic units of inheritance with 80 million base pairs. The determination of two bonded chemical bases is approx 95%.
  18. About 600 genes with 70 million base pairs. The determination of two bonded chemical bases is approx 95%.
  19. More or less 1700 basic units of inheritance with 60 million base pairs. The determination of two bonded chemical bases is approx 85%.
  20. Around 900 genes with 60 million base pairs. The determination of two bonded chemical bases is approx 90%.
  21. More or less 400 basic units of inheritance with 40 million base pairs. The determination of two bonded chemical bases is approx 70%.
  22. About 800 genes with 40 million base pairs. The determination of two bonded chemical bases is approx 70%.

X. Around 1400 basic units of inheritance with 150 million base pairs. The determination of two bonded chemical bases is approx 95%.

Y. More or Less 200 genes with 50 million base pairs. The determination of two bonded chemical bases is approx 50%.

The project does not only quantify genes but to get a complete mapping and understanding. HGP optimized the data analysis to 99.99% accuracy and sequenced the entire genome. Genome refers to genes in general or the organism’s complete set of DNA.

HGP revolutionizes the diagnosis and treatment of many illnesses. It benefited both medical science and impacts on drug discovery.

Reference

Collins, F.S. & McKusick, V.A. (2001). Implications of the Human Genome Project for Medical Science. National Library of Medicine. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11176855/

Germanna Community College (n.d.). Mitosis vs. meiosis.content/uploads/tutoring/handouts/Mitosis-vs-Meiosis.pdf

Medline Plus (2022). Chromosome 1. National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/chromosome/1/#resources

Medline Plus (2022). Chromosome 21. National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/chromosome/21/#conditions

Medline Plus (2022). How many chromosomes do people have?     National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/understanding/basics/howmanychromosomes/\

Medline   Plus    (2022).    What   is    a.    chromosome?       National   Library   of   Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/understanding/basics/chromosome/

National Human Genome Research Institute (2022). Chromosome abnormalities fact sheet. https://www.genome.gov/about-genomics/fact-sheets/Chromosome-Abnormalities-Fact- Sheet

National     Center     for     Biotechnology     Information     (1998).      Chromosome     map.

National   Center   for   Biotechnology   Information   (2009).    Appendix    F    chromosomal abnormalities.

National Human   Genome   Research   Institute   (2022).   Human   genome   project   FAQ.

National    Human    Genome   Research   Institute    (2022).    Y    chromosome   infographic.

Szalay, J. & Dobrijevic, D. (2022). Chromosomes: Facts about our genetic storerooms. Live Science.

Your Genome (2022). What is chromosome?

Love and Self-Discipline

2 Tim 1:7 "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."
from InkSightsnletters

What is RNA and what is its function?

Written by Ysandra Prille A. Tabilon

Ribonucleic acid is one of the major biological macromolecules essential to life. It is a nucleic acid that is present in the majority of living organisms and viruses. It is famous for its role in synthesizing proteins in your body. It also replaces deoxyribonucleic acid as a carrier of genetic code in many viruses.

A central dogma of molecular biology asserts that genetic code flows from DNA to RNA to proteins. It is Deoxyribonucleic acid that makes RNA, and RNA makes the proteins needed for your body. In this role, it is Ribonucleic acid that plays the “DNA photocopy” of the cell.

Basic Structure and Composition of RNA

Nucleotides are the nucleic acid’s basic building blocks. Ribonucleic acid, together with DNA, is a polymer made of long chains of nucleotides. A nucleotide of an RNA consists of a sugar molecule called ribose. This sugar attaches itself to a phosphate group and a nitrogen-containing base.

RNA’s nitrogen bases include adenine, guanine, uracil, and cytosine. They consist of a long, single-stranded chain. But, there are some special RNA viruses that are double-stranded. The molecule can have a variety of lengths and structures.

Types of Ribonucleic Acid

There are various types of Ribonucleic Acid. But, the most well-known and studied in the human body are the following:

Messenger RNA (mRNA). It is a molecule produced as a result of transcription. It carries the genetic code from the nucleus to the ribosomes for protein synthesis. It then transmits instructions on the type of proteins your body cells need.

Transfer RNA (tRNA). It is a molecule that transfers amino acids to the ribosomes for protein synthesis. It also assists in the translation of an mRNA sequence to proteins. It does this by forming base pairs with its complementary sequence on the mRNA.

Ribosomal RNA (rRNA). It is the ribosome’s most essential and prevalent structural component for all organisms. This molecule is necessary for the synthesis and translation of mRNA into proteins.

Functions of Ribonucleic Acid

One of the main functions of RNA is to help in the translation of DNA into protein. When your cells need a certain protein, they activate the gene that codes for that protein. It then generates several copies of that genetic information in the form of mRNA.

The mRNA copies are then used to translate the genetic information to protein. It accomplishes this action via the ribosomes, the cell’s protein production machinery. Thus, it increases the quantity of a protein produced by a single gene. Also, it acts as a control point for determining the time and amount of protein produced.

Ribonucleic acid depending on its type, has a variety of functions within the cell. They act as structural molecules within the organelles of cells. They also have a role in the catalysis of biological reactions. Other functions of Ribonucleic Acid are the following:

  • Carrier of genetic information all living cells
  • In protein synthesis, it serves as an adapter molecule
  • Intermediary between Deoxyribonucleic acid and ribosomes
  • Assists the ribosomes in choosing the appropriate amino acid needed for protein synthesis.
  • Act as enzymes (ribozymes) to speed chemical reactions

How is RNA created? What is RNA and what is its function?

Transcription is a process that converts DNA into Ribonucleic acid. It entails copying the gene sequence to create an RNA molecule. The primary enzymes involved in transcription are RNA polymerases. This enzyme synthesizes a complementary strand of RNA from a single-stranded gene template.

3 Stages of Transcription

Initiation. An RNA polymerase enzyme binds to a segment of DNA called the promoter. After binding, the double helix of DNA unwinds into a template strand and a non-coding strand. The single-stranded template is the one needed for transcription.

Elongation. The RNA polymerase reads the template strand in the 3′ to 5′ direction during this stage. Each nucleotide can synthesize a 5′-3′ RNA strand with complementary nucleotides. The newly synthesized RNA strand is almost identical to the non-coding strand. But, it contains the base uracil (U) instead of thymine (T).

Termination. RNA synthesis will continue until it comes across a signal instructing it to stop. Terminators are the sequences that signal that the transcript is complete. Once transcribed, they cause the RNA polymerase to release the transcript.

What came first protein or RNA?

The conflict between RNA and protein over who came first is analogous to the chicken or egg problem. Many people believe it is the RNA, while others believe it is the protein.

But if you consider the central dogma, it states that DNA generates RNA, which in turn makes proteins. So that implies that Ribonucleic Acid came first than proteins.

The dogma states that DNA contains the information needed to make your proteins. Ribonucleic acid serves as a messenger, conveying this information to the ribosomes. Translation refers to the process of converting ribonucleic acid to proteins.

According to the RNA world hypothesis, life on Earth evolved from a single RNA molecule. In this hypothesis, it says that this molecule evolved before DNA and proteins. It also says that it is capable of self-replication without the help of other molecules.

The general order has to be Ribonucleic acid first, then proteins, then DNA. Ribonucleic acid is like the ancestral molecule of life. Like deoxyribonucleic acid, RNA is capable of storing and replicating genetic information. Also, it can catalyze chemical reactions necessary for life, like protein.

Additionally, the well-known Urey-Miller experiment may reveal that proteins came first. Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, appeared to have formed during the early Earth’s formation.

The RNA-First scenario is quite popular among scientists studying the origins of life. But, there is insufficient evidence to explain what hypothesis is actually true.

What is RNA and what is its function?

What is the difference between RNA and DNA?

Deoxyribonucleic acid and Ribonucleic acid are nucleic acids. They both contain monomers called nucleotides. But, they, too, perform different functions and have distinct characteristics between them.

DNA has a role in the storage and transmission of genetic code needed for the formation of your other cells. While Ribonucleic acid transmits these codes to the ribosomes to synthesize proteins.

The location of DNA is in the nucleus, while some are present in the mitochondria. It is self-replicating and cannot leave its location. Meanwhile, RNA forms in the nucleolus and moves to the cytosol and ribosomes. Also, it gets synthesized from deoxyribonucleic acids.

DNA contains deoxyribose sugar, which is why it’s referred to as deoxyribonucleic acid. It also has two strands that twist to form a double helix. Meanwhile, RNA has ribose sugar hence the name ribonucleic acid. It only has a single strand of nucleotide, forming a helix.

They also differ in their sizes and helix geometry. DNA is way larger than RNA since it has millions of long-chain nucleotides that shape into a B-form helix. This increases the susceptibility of it to UV damage.

By contrast, Ribonucleic acid is much smaller. It has hundreds of shorter nucleotide chains that form into an A-helix. It also has a higher UV resistance than deoxyribonucleic acid.

Moreover, Ribonucleic Acid’s chemical structure is quite like that in DNA. Yet, both of them have some distinctions. DNA contains a sugar group with a 2′ hydrogen, while RNA contains a 2′ hydroxyl group.

DNA is stable under alkaline conditions due to its C-H bonds. While the O-H bond in RNA’s ribose makes it more reactive. That is why it is not stable under alkaline conditions. Also, due to the large grooves on its molecule, it is prone to enzyme attack compared to DNA’s smaller grooves.

Another key difference is their pyrimidine base and base pairing. They both contain four nitrogenous bases. But, deoxyribonucleic acid contains thymine that pairs with adenine. While Ribonucleic acid has the nucleobase uracil to pair with adenine.

Can RNA turn into DNA?

Ribonucleic acid can convert into deoxyribonucleic acid through a process called reverse transcription. This process is in contrast to the central dogma’s DNA-to-RNA flow. It is the reverse process of normal cellular respiration.

Reverse transcriptase is the enzyme that generates complementary DNA from an RNA template. This process is more prevalent and essential for retroviruses to be infectious. Reverse transcriptase was first discovered in retroviruses. But, new studies reveal that it is present in viruses, bacteria, animals, and plants.

An example of a retrovirus that uses reverse transcription is HIV. It can insert its genetic code into the genomes of infected cells. It replicates the HIV RNA and converts it to double-stranded DNA. It then incorporates itself into the cell’s DNA and orders the cell to replicate the virus.

Moreover, Thomas Jefferson University scientists were able to make history. They were the first to prove that mammalian cells can revert RNA segments to DNA. These findings could challenge the central dogma and have wide implications. This could imply that RNA messages can serve as templates for gene repair or rewriting.

Is RNA self replicating?

The replication of the genome is necessary for life to continue. One of the characteristics of living things is their potential for reproduction. You might be aware that Deoxyribonucleic acid is self-replicating, but what about RNAs?

According to the RNA world hypothesis, RNAs may be the first discovered molecule. This molecule has diverse functions like those of Deoxyribonucleic Acid. Ribozymes are small RNA structures that carry out chemical reactions necessary for life. Besides that, this enzyme might be able to replicate Ribonucleic acids.

Scientists have been attempting to recreate a self-replicating RNA to test this theory. So far, they only developed ribozymes capable of replicating only the straight strands. But, when folded, it is incapable of self-replication.

Yet, eventually, self-replication became possible. James Attwater has developed a ribozyme capable of replicating folded RNA strands. James isolated these ribozymes capable of replicating small segments of folded RNA. He then engineered the best version to replicate and create new full synthetic copies. This is the molecule’s first instance of self-replication.

For years, researchers have speculated that there might be a simpler way to copy RNA from DNA itself. Yet, now they have finally synthesized RNA enzymes capable of self-replication. Even in the absence of proteins or other components, these molecules can replicate.

Ribozymes are the ones that are self-replicating. Although, not all RNAs are self-replicating.

Can RNA exist without DNA? What is RNA and what is its function?

Deoxyribonucleic acid is the genome of all self-replicating cellular organisms studied thus far. Also, they perform all biological functions under the central dogma. As a result of this fact, almost all biologists must believe that no organism exists without DNA.

But, some scientists still believe that an organism devoid of DNA could exist on Earth. This type of organism may exist in the world of microorganisms. It is an area of enormous biological diversity. The majority of microorganisms still remain unidentified. If you think about it, anything is possible.

Scientists have devised experimental methods to identify organisms that lack DNA. They employed techniques that inhibit DNA replication or expression. They conducted it on 100 microbial samples collected from a variety of water sources. They were able to discover colonies and cells that appeared to be DNA-free. But, it turns out they were DNA-positive.

So far, no microorganism without Deoxyribonucleic acid has been identified. The findings reveal that there may be no such organisms or that they exist on Earth but are very difficult to find. Nonetheless, some scientists believe that these types of organisms exist in our environment.

So, to answer your question on the existence of RNA without DNA, there have been no findings of such organisms yet. The discovery of RNA organisms could alter our understanding of evolution and biology. It is likely to be an organism that has developed alone and is distinct from DNA organisms.

References:

Brennan, J. (2017, April 25) Did Protein, DNA or RNA Come First? Sciencing. https://sciencing.com/did-protein-dna-rna-come-first-2237.html

BYJUS (n.d.) Structure of RNA. https://byjus.com/biology/structure-of-rna/

Helminstine, A.M. (2020, February 2) The Differences Between DNA and RNA. ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/dna-versus-rna-608191

Hiyoshi, A. et al. (2011, November 17) Does a DNA-less cellular organism exist on Earth?

Wiley Online Library. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-2443.2011.01558.x

India Today (2018, November 16) Major differences between DNA and RNA. India Today. https://www.indiatoday.in/education-today/gk-current-affairs/story/differences-between-dna-and-rna-1389884-2018-11-16

Khan Academy (n.d.) Overview of transcription.

MC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (2018, May 16) How the earliest life on Earth may have replicated itself.

https://www2.mrc-lmb.cam.ac.uk/how-the-earliest-life-on-earth-may-have-replicated-itself/ RNA Society (n.d.) What is RNA. https://www.rnasociety.org/what-is-rna

ThermoFisher Scientific (n.d.) Reverse Transcription—A Brief Introduction. ThermoFisher. https://www.thermofisher.com/ph/en/home/life-science/cloning/cloning-learning-center/invitroge n-school-of-molecular-biology/rt-education/reverse-transcription-basics.html

Thomas Jefferson University (2021, June 12) New Discovery Shows Human Cells Can Write RNA Sequences Into DNA – Challenges Central Principle in Biology. SciTechDaily. https://scitechdaily.com/new-discovery-shows-human-cells-can-write-rna-sequences-into-dna-ch allenges-central-principle-in-biology/amp/

Scripps Research Institute (2009, January 10) How Did Life Begin? RNA That Replicates Itself Indefinitely Developed For First Time. ScienceDaily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090109173205.htm

Wang, D. & Farhana, A. (2021, May 9) Biochemistry, RNA Structure. NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK558999/#:~:text=The%20primary%20function%20of%20RNA,RNA%20involved%20in%20protein%20synthesis

Knowledge and Good Judgment

Psalm 119:65-66 Do good to your servant according to your word, Lord. Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.
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Why is histology important?

Written by Elijah Dave M. Cordova

Histology is a fascinating field of study. It helps you understand how normal tissues appear. It teaches you how they function. It helps confirm the presence of several diseases. Histology allows you to trace the causes of diseases. It can also teach you how to treat them.

The term “histology” comes from two Greek words. “Histos” means tissue, and “-logos” is a field of study. Hence, it deals with the study of the tissues in the body. It studies how they constitute the different body organs. It focuses on how cells’ order and structure optimize the organs’ functions.

Recall the different levels of organization in organisms.

  • Cells are the most basic structures that constitute life.
  • Tissues comprise cells similar in function and form. They work together to perform the same functions.
  • Organs are tissues that work together to do specific activities.
  • Organ systems are many organs that work together to perform needed roles. These functions benefit the organism in normal conditions.

The interconnectedness of histology to other study fields is obvious here. Among these fields are the following:

  • Biology
  • Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Immunology

Histology grants a microlevel perspective on these subjects and more. Many students who prefer more generalized and applicable studies might find it boring. Yet, without it, these other studies would fail to make sense.

Through this article, you will get to learn more about histology. You will discover its main goals and concepts. You will appreciate its relationship with other fields in medicine. Moreover, you will realize the privilege that is the chance to learn this subject.

What are the basic concepts of histology?

Now that you know its importance, you might wonder how to start studying histology. It begins by learning what makes up tissues. Next, you will learn how to prepare tissue sections for examination. What follows is a discussion on the different microscopes you can use.

Cells and the extracellular matrix (ECM) make up tissues. Several macromolecules form the ECM. Among them are collagen fibrils which are the building blocks of tendons.

The ECM aids the cell and contains the fluid that serves three purposes.

  1. It transports nutrients to the cells;
  2. It provides mechanical support for the cells; and
  3. It transports cell wastes and other secretory products.

Cells produce ECM components. These components, in turn, influence cells. This relationship causes intense interactions between these two components. These interactions create different types of tissues, each having unique features.

The minute size of the cells and ECM elicits the need for microscopes. Hence, the most common procedure in histology is the preparation of tissue sections. These are thin and translucent organ slices. The basic steps to prepare tissues for examination under light microscopy are here:

  1. Fixation is placing tissue sections in fixatives. These are solutions with cross-link proteins that inactivate degradative enzymes. Hence, they preserve the tissue structures.

A buffered isotonic solution of 37% formaldehyde is a usual light microscopy fixative. Meanwhile, glutaraldehyde is a prevalent electron microscope fixative.

2. Dehydration is placing the sections through increasing concentrations of alcohol solutions. The final solution is 100% alcohol.

3. Clearing is removing the alcohol in the samples through organic solvents. These solvents are miscible in alcohol and embedding mediums. Common embedding mediums are paraffin and xylene.

4. Infiltration is placing the sample in melted paraffin. You perform this at 52°- 60°C.

5. Embedding is placing the paraffin-infiltrated tissue in a mold. It allows your samples to harden. It is often done at room temperature.

6. Trimming is slicing or sectioning the hardened sample. It does this through an instrument called a microtome. This microtome creates 3-10 μm thick tissue sections for light microscopy.

7. Staining (dyeing) makes tissues distinguishable from one another. Its necessity is due to most cells and ECM components being colorless.

Cell components with an anionic (negative) charge react well with basic dyes or stains. These components are basophilic. Examples include DNA and RNA.

Cationic (positive) substances react with acidic dyes. These substances are acidophilic. Examples are collagen and several cytoplasmic proteins.

Hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) are the most common staining dyes. The former is a basic dye, and the latter is acidic.

8. Mounting a glass coverslip on the slide is the last step. The coverslip must have a clear adhesive.

Slide preparation (steps 1 through 8) takes around 12 hours to 2½ days. Its duration depends on tissue size, staining method, and embedding medium.

There are two types of microscopes you can use in histology. They are as follows:

  1. Light microscopy uses the interaction of light with tissue components.
    1. Bright-field microscopy identifies tissues through colors caused by staining. Students and pathologists use this the most.
    2. Fluorescence microscopy uses UV light to visualize fluorescent molecules alone. It allows fluorescent probe localization that is more specific than routine stains.
    3. Phase-contrast microscopy produces stain-less images. Hence, it allows you to observe living cells. It does this through refractive index differences among tissue components.
    4. Confocal microscopy scans samples at successive focal planes to generate images. It often uses a laser. Confocal microscopy produces a 3D reconstruction with the image.
  2. Electron microscopy uses the interaction of electron beams with tissue components.
    1. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) permits resolutions around 3 nm. It allows up to 400,000x magnification. You can add compounds with heavy metal ions to the fixatives here to improve resolution. You can also perform cryofracture and freeze etching. Here, you freeze the specimen in liquid nitrogen before cutting it.
    2. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) produces black-and-white images. It presents a 3D view of the specimen.

Other ways of studying histology samples are the following:

  1. Autoradiography uses radioactive precursors to localized synthesized cell components.
  2. Cell and tissue culture is growing cells in vitro. You will often use the phase-contrast microscope here.
  3. Enzyme histochemistry (cytochemistry) uses specific enzyme activities in samples. It yields visible products in specific enzyme locations. You will often use a cryostat here.
  4. Immunohistochemistry visualizes specific molecules in samples. It uses antigen-antibody reactions with visible markers.
  5. Hybridization techniques localize DNA sequences on chromosomes. They also detect specific RNA targets in cells. In situ hybridization (ISH) is a common hybridization technique.

What are the four types of tissue? Describe each.

Why is histology important? What are the four types of tissues?

You now know the basic concepts in histology. You may next wonder what kinds of tissues there are in our bodies. The epithelium and connective tissue are among them. The muscle and nervous tissues complete this list.

The epithelial cells (epithelium) have the following functions:

  1. Absorption. It includes the gut (intestinal lining) and the stomach.
  2. Filtration. An example is a kidney.
  3. Protection. It involves the skin that protects us from the outside world.
  4. Secretion. It includes the different glands in our bodies.

They have the following characteristics:

  1. A free (apical) surface open to outside the body. It can also be in internal organ cavities in the body.
  2. A fixed (basal) area connected to underlying connective tissue
  3. Can have several nerves in them (innervated)
  4. Excellent regeneration as seen in sunburn
  5. Forms a protective barrier through close attachment to each other
  6. No blood vessels

They, too, have the following classifications:

  1. By cell arrangement.

a. Simple. They are single-cell layers often used for absorption and filtration.

b. Stratified. They have several layers often used for protection.

2. By shape.

a. Columnar. These are column-shaped and tall.

b. Cuboidal. These take the form of a cube.

c. Squamous. These are scale-like and flat.

Meanwhile, connective tissues have the following functions, elements, and classifications.

A. Functions

  1. Cushioning and internal support for organs.

2. Protects and attaches body parts. Examples include tendons and ligaments.

3. Stores nutrients.

4. Strengthens the skin.

2. Elements

  1. Cells.

2. Fibers provide elasticity, support, and strength.

3. Ground substance is a gel around the cells and fibers.

Classifications

  1. Loose connective.
    1. Adipose. These have blood vessels and cells. They also store nutrients.
    2. Areolar connective. These are a loose arrangement of cells and fibers. They provide cushions to organs
    3. Reticular connective. These are delicate fiber-cell networks. They provide internal support to organs.
  2. Dense connective

Dense regular connective. These include tendons and ligaments. They often have fibers and provide strength.

Dense irregular connective. These include the skin and organ capsules. They often have fibers going in all directions.

Next are the jobs and elements of nervous tissues.

A. Functions

  1. Conducts impulses to and from organs through neurons.

B. Elements

1.Brain.

2.Nerves.

3.Spinal cord.

Last are the jobs and types of muscle tissues.

A. Functions

  1. In charge of body movement.

2. Transports waste, food, and blood through the body organs.

3. Responsible for mechanical digestion.

Types

  1. Cardiac muscle. It is the muscles that make up the heart. These muscles are involuntary and striated. They have intercalated discs that cause synchronous heart contractions.

2. Skeletal muscle. It includes all the body muscles. They are voluntary and striated. They connect to bones to aid movement. They, too, come in bundles.

3. Smooth muscle. It includes all blood vessels and organ walls. These muscles are involuntary and spindle-shaped. They push materials through organs.

What is the difference between histology and biopsy?

You now know the basic types of tissues. Let us now discuss the terms associated with histology. The first is a biopsy. A biopsy is a procedure of taking small tissue samples. It also refers to the tissue sample itself. Meanwhile, histology is a study field that uses biopsies in diagnosing diseases.

Biopsies often diagnose or rule out the following diseases:

  1. Cancer.
  2. Peptic ulcers.
  3. Hepatitis.
  4. Kidney diseases.

Also, among the types of biopsies are as follows:

  1. Endoscopic biopsy. You can use it during an endoscopy which visualizes the upper GI tract. It uses an endoscope to remove tissues.

2. Excisional biopsy. You can use this in surgery to remove larger tissue sections.

3. Needle biopsy. It uses a hollow needle to get organ or skin tissue sections.

What is the difference between histology and pathology?

Next to a biopsy is pathology. Pathology is a branch in the field of medicine. It studies the nature and causes of diseases. It, too, investigates their development and effects. Histology has roots in biology. It involves the small tissue structures and their composition.

Histology can benefit the study of pathology. It helps explain how and why certain diseases afflict humans. Pathology can also benefit histology. Its study provides applications of what histologists identify under their microscopes.

What is the difference between biopsy and histopathology?

Last is the term histopathology. It combines histology and pathology. Histology studies tissues, and pathology studies diseases. Hence, histopathology studies tissues related to disease. A biopsy is the removal of tissue samples for clinical examination. It also refers to the actual tissue samples.

Biopsies are crucial to the field of histopathology. They help in diagnosing diseases from tissue samples.

Why should I study histology?

Histology is interesting. It allows you to see and appreciate the world in a different way. It gives you a thorough understanding of the microstructures that make you, you. Histology also sits at the crossroads of anatomy, pathology, and physiology.

Aside from this, there are other applications for histology:

  1. Autopsies. Studying tissues from a deceased human or animal can help determine the cause of death.

2. Forensic investigations. Tissue sample studies can clarify several forensic issues. Hence, they can help solve crimes.

3. Veterinary diagnosis. Animal samples can suggest ways to treat and manage their conditions.

REFERENCES:

Ali, R. (n.d.). Introduction to Basic Histology. UO Babylon. Retrieved February 20, 2022 from uobabylon

Brown,    R.    (2021).    What    is    a    biopsy?    Rcpath.org.    pathology/news/fact-sheets/what-is-a-biopsy.html#:~:text=Histopathologists%20examine%20biopsies%20(tissue%20or,more% 20detail%20under%20the%20microscope.

Exploring Nature. (n.d.). from exploring nature. The 4 Basic Tissue Types in the Human Body

Histology vs. Pathology – What’s the difference? | Ask Difference. (2018). Askdifference.com.

Introduction to Histology – Applications & Importance – Anatomy Notes. (2020, January 14). Anatomy Notes. https://anatomynotes.org/histology/introduction-to-histology- applications-importance/

Mescher, A. (2018). Junqueira’s basic histology : text and atlas (15th ed.). Mcgraw Hill Education.

Thompson, V. (2014). Why Is the Study of Histology Important in Your Overall Understanding of Anatomy & Physiology? Education – Seattle PI. https://education.seattlepi.com/study- histology-important-overall-understanding-anatomy-physiology-5337.html

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What is histology used for?

Written by Kheizaya Methuzela G. Aguirre

What is histology used for?

Histology includes studying tissues and cells under a microscope. Histologists perform this to diagnose and research disorders of the tissues. They make tissue diagnostics and assist doctors in patient care management.

People study histology to:

  • Examine the contents of the tissue.
  • In agriculture, they seek what chemicals are present in the soil.
  • Perform autopsies in this field. It is to comprehend better some inexplicable deaths during autopsy and forensic investigations. Microscopic tissue analysis may reveal a cause of death in some circumstances.

Why is it called histology?

Histology is a study that deals with cell and tissue structure at the microscopic level.

Its name comes from the Greek term “histos,” which means tissue or columns. The other is “logia,” which refers to “study.”

Histology first appeared in a book written by Karl Meyer in 1819. It was where he combined the two Greek words. And it was then traced back to the 17th century by Marcello Malpighi.

He experimented with insects, botany, and embryology as a scientist. He was the first to use the silkworm as a model to study insect respiration.

He also further investigated the development of chick embryos than anybody else. His experiments are what made him a pioneer in the science of embryology.

But it was his delineation of pulmonary capillaries and alveoli that made him famous. Using only a single magnifying lens, Malpighi saw pulmonary capillaries in the frog.

He termed these capillaries as “nature’s microscope.” It allowed him to see things that are not present in big animals.

Although he uses these single lenses in most of his findings, he also utilized a new microscope. This new type is the compound microscope, which arose at the end of the 16th century. It allowed him to see chick embryo development.

Here are some human body structures named after Malpighi:

  1. Malpighian corpuscles
  2. Malpighian layer in the skin
  3. Malpighian tubules of the insect’s excretory system

How is tissue classified?

Tissues refer to a collection of cells with similar structures and play a specific role. Histology focuses on tissues’ appearance, structure, and function under a microscope.

Below are the classifications of tissues based on their structural and functional similarity:

  • Epithelium
  • Connective
  • Muscular
  • Neurological systems

The fundamental tissue collaborates to assist the human body’s general health and maintenance. As a result, any change in tissue structure might result in harm or illness.

Epithelial tissue is the body’s outer cover, lines interior cavities, and forms glands. As its name indicates, connective tissue ties the body’s cells and organs together.

When the body stimulates muscle tissue, it contracts, allowing mobility. Nervous tissue is also reactive. It enables electrochemical signals to generate and propagate into nerve impulses. When this happens, it communicates to the different parts of the body.

What are examples of tissues?

In histology, we all know that there are four types of tissues:

  • Epithelial
  • Connective
  • Muscle
  • Nervous
  • Each of these tissues has examples of their structure and biological function. Under the epithelial tissue, you have the following:
  • Simple Squamous
  • Simple Cuboidal
  • Simple Columnar
  • Transitional
  • Stratified Squamous
  • Stratified Cuboidal
  • Stratified Columnar
  • Pseudostratified Columnar

The simple squamous allows items to flow through diffusion and filtration. It also emits lubricating substances. It resides on the lining of the heart, blood vessels, and lymphatic vessels, as well as the air sacs of the lungs.

Simple cuboidal epithelium ingests and secretes. It is in ducts and secretory parts of tiny glands and kidney tubules.

Simple columnar consumes and releases mucus and enzymes. They are on ciliated tissues like lungs, uterine tubes, and uterus. The digestive tract bladder also contains smooth (nonciliated tissues).

Transitional epithelium allows for the expansion and stretching of the urinary organs. The bladder, urethra, and ureters are all lined with it.

Stratified squamous epithelial tissue is the skin protector against abrasion. The esophagus, mouth, and vaginal canal are all lined with this substance.

Stratified cuboidal is present in sweat, salivary, and mammary glands. All these mentioned glands have a protective epithelial layer.

The stratified columnar epithelium is an uncommon kind of epithelial tissue. It has quite a few layers of column-shaped cells. The conjunctiva, throat, anus, and male urethra are some places where it situates. It also occupies the embryo.

Pseudostratified columnar epithelia are tissues that constitute a single layer of cells. But, they appear to look like they are of many layers when seen in cross-section. These epithelial cells’ nuclei are at various levels, giving the appearance of stratification.

  • Connective tissue is another type of tissue that functions as a linking role in the body. It works to support and bind other tissues.

Examples of specialized connective tissues are:

  • Adipose
  • Cartilage
  • Bone
  • Blood
  • Lymph

Adipose tissue is a fat-storing connective tissue. It protects organs and insulates the body from heat loss by lining organs and cavities in the body. Hormones produced by this affect blood coagulation, insulin sensitivity, and fat accumulation.

Cartilage is a tissue composed of packed collagenous fibers encased in chondrin. This chondrin is a rubbery and gelatinous material. Sharks and human embryos have cartilage in their bones. It offers flexible support for tissues such as the nose, trachea, and ears in mature humans.

Collagen and calcium phosphate, a mineral crystal, are all seen in bone tissue. It is a mineralized connective tissue made up of calcium phosphate for hardness.

Scientists classify blood as a form of connective tissue. It originates from the mesoderm, the central germ layer of growing embryos. The blood also functions to connect different organ systems. It carries signal molecules between cells to supply them with nutrients.

Another form of fluid connective tissue is lymph. Blood plasma exits blood vessels at capillary beds, resulting in this transparent fluid. It contains immune system cells that defend the body from infections.

  • And for the muscle tissues, below are the examples that you must know about it:
  • Smooth muscle
  • Skeletal muscle
  • Cardiac muscle

Smooth muscle is present in the intestines, blood vessels, urinary and reproductive systems. It contracts, causing peristaltic movement and blood vessel obstruction in the alimentary canal.

From the word “skeleton,” skeletal muscle links to the bones of our arms and legs. Voluntary motions involve the skeleton. To move bones, they contract and relax.

Cardiac muscle is a kind of muscle found in the heart. It settles in the heart’s walls where its cardiac muscle tissues are. They contract to pump blood to every region of the body.

  • Nerve cells and their associated neuroglia cells make up nervous tissue. These cells receive and send nerve impulses or action potentials from one nerve cell to the next.

Dendrites and axons are two types of cellular projections found in nerve cells. The electrochemical signals are all received by the dendrites (from another nerve cell). The action potential will then forward to the next nerve cell via the axons.

The axon terminal is a bulb-like terminus to the axon. This axon terminal releases neurotransmitters that go to the next nerve cell of the body. It is to finally pass the nerve impulse from one nerve cell to another.

Neuroglia cells lie in the nervous tissue like the nerve cells. These cells assist in the protection and nourishment of nerve cells. They also aid in the maintenance of homeostasis and the formation of myelin.

The nervous system comprises nervous tissue. Nervous tissue comes in a variety of forms. Grey matter and white matter exist in the central nervous system. There are ganglion tissues and nerve tissues in the peripheral nervous system.

Where are the 4 tissues located?

Tissues are a bunch of cells with the same shapes and functions. Different organs contain different types of tissues. Listed below are the following four fundamental kinds of tissues found in humans.

  • Epithelial
  • Connective
  • Muscular
  • Nerve tissue

Within each of the primary tissues, there may be many sub-tissues. Each of them has its designated place in the human body where it operates. that you should know about.

Most inner cavities line epithelial tissue, covering the body’s exterior. The roles of epithelial tissue incorporate protection, secretion, absorption, and filtration.

An example of this is the skin protecting the body from dirt, germs, and other hazardous organisms. These tissue cells come in various forms – thin, flat, cubic, or elongated cells are all possible.

Connective tissues locate between other tissues everywhere in the body. They help bind structures to form frameworks and support organs. They store fat, carry chemicals, and guard against disease throughout the body. Additionally, they also help rectify tissue impairment.

Your muscle tissues are on your body’s muscles. These shorten or contract to produce motion of your body parts. The tissue is cellular and well-furnished with blood.

The nervous tissues in our body are all found in the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. They are in charge of supporting the nervous system in handling many functions.

How long does it take to become a histologist?

A histologist is someone who prepares tissue samples for examination by a pathologist. Its job is to cut tissue samples from organs or tissues and stain them with dyes. You use dyes to enhance the visualization of tissues for microscopic tissue examination.

There are times that you are also tasked to complete these activities immediately. Activities like taking a sample of tissue from a patient during surgery. You will also work on this when doing rapid laboratory analysis.

Becoming a histologist is quite long and requires patience. You must have either an associate or bachelor’s degree and a license to practice in the state where you work.

You may also need to earn certification from ASCP. Yet, this depends on your employer’s recommended job qualities.

This sector requires two years of laboratory experience. Thus, it necessitates meticulous attention to detail and knowledge of the equipment needed. Training in the handling of valuables is also part of the profession.

Students wishing to pursue this field must:

  • Get a high school diploma and two years of histopathological clinical laboratory experience.
  • Get an associate or bachelor’s degree in histotechnology.
  • Finish at least a year of clinical lab experience in histotechnology.
  • Get a license by passing the national examination.

Is histology a hard class?

Histology is beneficial to medical students in a variety of ways. It aids them in comprehending the typical organ system’s cell and tissue architecture. Furthermore, it links structure to function by tying tissue structure to operate.

Histology is somehow complex because it needs excellent memorization and understanding skills. But at the same time, it is a fascinating field of study. It’s amazing how intricate the tissues are while still being so similar.

You will still find the fascinating aspect of it. There is no single branch of biology that is very easy, with all honesty.

All fields need a thorough understanding because the scientific world is expansive. Yet, you won’t regret learning new things because uncommon ones are always interesting.

References:

Anatomy and Physiology: Four Types of Tissues. (n.d). https://open.oregonstate.education/aandp/chapter/4-1-types-of- tissues/#:~:text=Tissues%20are%20organized%20into%20four,maintenance%20of%20th e%20human%20body.

Classification of Tissues. (n.d). https://www.vedantu.com/biology/classification-tissue Goldberg, Alexander. 2018, December 18. A Brief History of Histology.

Helmenstine, Anne Marie. 2019, March 24. What Histology Is and How It’s Used. thoughtco/histology

Stoppler, Melissa Conrad. 2021, March 29. Medical Definition of Histology. Medicinenet/histology

ZipRecruiter Marketplace Research Team. (n.d). What Is A Histologist and How to Become One. Ziprecruiter/histology

What is Medical Histology?

Written by Franzgayle T. Husain

Medical Histology

The word histology comes from the Greek word “histo,” which means tissue, and “logos,” which means study. Hence, medical histology refers to the study of the structure of tissues. It examines tissues, cells, and organs from a morphological and molecular standpoint.

Before we delve more into histology, let us first understand the concept of cells and tissues.

Cells and Tissue

The human body is consists of trillions of cells that work various functions. It serves as the fundamental unit of life and is essential for the survival of individuals. When a group of cells has the same structure and function, they form tissues.

Tissues play a significant role in various activities of your body. Different types perform distinct functions, including secretion, movement, and strength. Classification of tissue forms four groups– nervous, Muscle, epithelial, and connective tissue. Once they get damaged by different diseases, it will put your life at risk.

Histology is the opposite of gross anatomy because it focuses more on the cellular level. Medical professionals study the role and anatomy of tissues under the microscope. They examine how it interacts with your body systems and how diseases affect them.

History of Histology

The scientist Marie François Xavier Bichat first did the study of tissues. He was the one who used the term tissue in an anatomical sense. He discovered different weaves and textures in the body and named them layers of tissues.

Bichat was able to discover these during his dissection for his anatomical studies. Bichat then created a classification of these issues based on their distinct textures. His workings made him the father of modern histology and descriptive anatomy.

What is histology used for?

All multicellular organisms possess tissues and organ systems. Thus, scientists examine cells to understand concepts and answer questions in many fields.

Medicine

In medicine, it is vital to understand the normal to identify the abnormal. Using histology allows you to detect any abnormalities in your tissues. Whenever there is a disruption of your cells, it affects your body’s activities. This explains why medical professionals conduct histological tests to diagnose certain diseases.

Agriculture

Examining plants in histological viewpoints helps in identifying chemicals present in the soil. These hazardous chemicals can put your plants at risk. But with histology, you can prevent potential dangers from diseases. Additionally, this can aid in deploying the best control methods in the longer term.

Autopsies

Microscopic tissue examination helps in explaining the cause of death of some patients. This is applicable when macroscopic studies fail to provide specific diagnostic pathology. Microanatomy may disclose information about a person’s environment after they die.

How is histology performed?

In every laboratory work, a specific person works on certain procedures. A histotechnologist examines preserved sections and smears of tissues. They stain these samples and place them under a microscope.

Histotechnologists make sure that a tissue section is of good quality. This allows various interpretations of any microscopic cellular changes. They preserve and process the sample’s structures by following these steps:

  1. Fixation. Histotechnologists fix the sample as soon as it arrives in the laboratory. They put it in a liquid fixing agent like formalin. The formaldehyde solution penetrates your specimen, resulting in chemical and physical changes. This helps in preserving the tissue and protecting it from the following stages.

After fixation, the histotechnologist will trim and place your sample in labeled cassettes. Generally, this stage is the crucial part of preparing histological sections. Once there is a delay of fixation, your specimen may become damaged.

2.       Dehydration

Melted paraffin wax is hydrophobic. Thus, it is essential to remove the water first from the specimen. To do this, soak your sample in an increased concentration of alcohol solution. In this way, you can avoid distortion of tissue and remove water and formalin.

3.       Clearing

After dehydration, the specimen is immediately transferred to an intermediate solvent like xylene. This type of solvent is soluble in both ethanol and paraffin wax. Using this will remove the amount of fat present, allowing wax infiltration.

In this stage, the solvent xylene replaces the ethanol in the specimen. But the molten paraffin wax will take its place once the tissue becomes embedded.

4.       Infiltration

Now that the tissue has cleared, a histology wax can infiltrate your specimen. Wax, like paraffin, is liquid at 60°C. Thus, you must let it cool to solidify and allow thin sectioning.

5.       Embedding

Embedding happens after infiltration with wax. You must put the tissue in a mold that contains molten wax. Placing resin on it creates a big solid tissue block. This can be clamped into a microtone and sectioned once it has changed.

In embedding, you must ensure that the specimen is in the correct orientation in a mold. Any errors may result in damaged elements during microtomy.

6.       Section-cutting

Histotechnologists can now trim your tissue specimen into thin sections. They can put it in a microscope slide. They use an instrument called microtome to perform section cutting. It must be in thin sections in the form of a ribbon.

Each routine has its required thickness of your tissue. Most specimens for routine hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) are 3-5 μm in thickness. Meanwhile, specimens for amyloid deposits must be at 8-12 μm.

After cutting, you must transfer these sections to a warm water bath to allow them to float on the surface. You can now pick them up and place them under a microscopic slide.

7.       Staining

Most of your cells appear colorless and transparent, so you must stain them to produce contrast. Using histochemical stain provides a more precise visualization of your specimen. It makes the structures and features of your tissues more visible and easier to examine.

How does histology help diagnose an injury or disease?

Understanding the normal anatomy of your tissues is one way of detecting infection. Healthcare providers interpret the changes that arise caused by diseases. Each condition generates distinct changes of characteristics in your tissue structure. Thus, a histological examination can provide information that helps diagnose illness injuries.

Histopathology, a branch of histology, tackles tissues affected by diseases. Damage of cells and inflammation reactions indicates signs of viral infection. Pathologists look for any changes in your cells that might explain your conditions.

Your tissues contain evidence of a pathological process. Interpreting it provides crucial information for your diagnosis and treatment of your disease. Although some changes are vague, there are others that are obvious.

Cancer is a known disease that results from mutations in your cells’ genes. Histopathologists examine your cells from suspicious lumps in your body. They perform a biopsy to provide information about the type of cancer you might have. It is also one way to determine whether your cancer is malignant or benign.

You must remember that histopathology results are only one piece of the puzzle. Pathologists perform laboratory procedures to identify the virus and confirm the diagnosis. These procedures include immunohistochemistry (IHC), serology, and molecular biology.

What is the difference between cytology and histology?

Cytology and histology both study human cells and tissues. But they differ when it comes to the scope of their study. The former focuses on the structure of a single cell or a small group of cells found in body fluids. While the latter investigates the entire section of human tissue.

Cytology or otherwise known as cytopathology, examines your cells for diagnostic purposes. Medical professionals like pathologists observe any abnormalities in your cells. Hence, they use cytology tests to analyze cells for diagnosis. This explains why cytology is used for screening and diagnosing cancer.

Generally, there are two branches of cytology–exfoliative cytology and intervention cytology.

Exfoliative Cytology

Exfoliative cytology is when a pathologist examines cells shed by your body or scraped from the surface of your epithelial tissue. Smears that have been spontaneously shed or manually removed from epithelial and mucous surfaces may contain these exfoliated cells.

These are some exfoliative cytology that deals with manual tissue brushing.

  • Gynecological samples
  • Gastrointestinal tract samples
  • Skin or mucus samples

There are three examples of exfoliative cytology that involve collecting tissues or fluids that your body sheds. These are:

  • Respiratory samples
  • Urinary samples
  • Discharge or secretion samples

Intervention Cytology

Medical professionals intervene with your body to get cells for cytology tests. This means that they will perform procedures that involve piercing your skin to get samples of your cells. Hence why its name is “Intervention Cytology.”

Fine needle aspiration (FNA) is the most used method of intervention cytology. The FNA is helpful for evident lesions. A medical professional injects a needle into the lesion or on the area that draws out a fluid. They may do a fine-needle aspiration in the following parts of your body:

  • subcutaneous soft tissue tumors
  • thyroid
  • lymph nodes,
  • salivary glands
  • breast.

What is the role of histology in medicine?

Tissues act as building blocks of your body. It forms your organs as it works together. Thus, histology will help you understand and predict the activities of your organs. This is important in the field of medicine, especially for diagnosing diseases. Medical students can also get a better knowledge of cellular biology.

Studying how these cells work provides different insights into the development of complex organs and your organ systems. The information you gain allows you to monitor how your body reacts when certain diseases or treatments affect you.

Diseases occur when there is a rupture of your cells due to infection. Some disorders involving infected connective tissue include lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. They arise when your collagen and elastin become swollen. This then caused harm to the proteins and body parts they connect.

Medical professionals use histology to study the development of these diseases. Observing their progress helps them to identify suitable treatments. This is also one way of comparing the efficacy of different medications and lifestyle choices on your body.

Furthermore, histological studies contribute to the advancement of medical science. Researchers use tissues to test discoveries and verify theories about drug medication. As for medical students, this widens their knowledge of cellular biology and pathology.

Is medical histology hard?

In research conducted by Garcia et al. (2019), they found that undergraduate biology students find it hard to study histology. The nature of the topic and its terminology made it difficult for them to comprehend. But for P. del Rio-Hortega (1933), histology is an exotic meal where you become addicted as you taste it repeatedly.

Medical schools integrate histology into their curriculum to provide information about biological tissues, animal growth, physiology, and tissue diseases. It also continues to deliver different findings in clinical medicine and advanced research.

Unfortunately, medical students find this complex due to insufficient time and attention. Students suggest that teachers should base their teaching on practical tasks. They must also add anatomy subjects and make histology education more engaging.

Learning histology is challenging, but constant reading will make you appreciate it more. One cannot know medicine well if they have no rich perspective on the tissue-level organization.

References

García, M., Victory, N., Navarro-Sempere, A., & Segovia, Y. (2019). Students’ Views on Difficulties in Learning Histology. Anatomical sciences education, 12(5), 541–549. https://doi.org/10.1002/ase.1838

Sorenson, R. L (2008). Atlas of Human Histology: A Guide to Microscopic Structure of Cells, Tissues, and Organs. Retrieved from https://histologyguide.com/about-us/sorenson-atlas-of-human-histology- chapters-1-and-14.pdf

Hussein IH, Raad M, Safa R, Jurjus R, and Jurjus A (2015). Once Upon a Microscopic Slide: The Story of Histology. J Cytol Histol 6:377. doi:10.4172/2157-7099.1000377

Open University. (n.d). Functions of tissues. Retrieved

from https://www.open.edu/openlearn/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=65376&section=1

Elliot, M. Miller, K. Pins, M. and Watson, Mark. (2004). What is a tissue? Retrieved

from https://www.roswellpark.org/sites/default/files/What_is_Tissue amp Why_is_it_Important.pdf

Wood, R. (1996). Sustainable agriculture: the role of plant pathology. Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology, 18(2), 141–144. https://doi.org/10.1080/07060669609500638

Lane, A. Buckley, G. McLaughlin, K. Whitehous, L. Knapp, S. and Cotoia, A. (2018). Histology. Retrieved from https://biologydictionary.net/histology/

Helmenstine, A. (2019). What Histology Is and How It’s Used. Retrieved

from https://www.thoughtco.com/histology-definition-and-introduction-4150176

Cleveland Clinic Organization. (2021). Cytology. Retrieved

from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diagnostics/21714-cytology

Bruce-Gregorios, J. B. H., & Faldas, M. (2017). Histopathologic Techniques. Independently published.

Brown, R. (n.d). Histopathology. Retrieved from https://www.rcpath.org/discover-pathology/news/fact- sheets/histopathology.html

The Open University. (2016). Introduction to histopathology. Retrieved from https://www.open.edu/openlearn/mod/oucontent/view.php?printable=1&id=2312

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