Somatic Cells And Their Characteristics

Definition: Somatic cells

The term “somatic” originated from the Greek word for “body.” Thus, somatic cells are the body cells that make up the tissues of multicellular organisms. All the types of cells come from somatic cells, except for germ cells.

Somatic cells are diploids with two sets of chromosomes inherited from their parents, but they cannot pass genetic information during their reproduction process. These types of cells originate from their zygotes. Thus, they differ significantly from gametes, stem cells, and germ cells. Diploid somatic cells account for mitosis and help in the growth, repair, and Reproduction processes. Bodily cell reproduction can affect the individual, but it cannot pass on its descendants.

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Characteristics of somatic cells

The human body has more than three trillion somatic cells. They form tissues, organs, bones, and different human body systems to shape our body parts and function in a specialized manner. In multicellular organisms, somatic cells are in charge of growth and development. Repair and renewal occur as a result of bodily cell formation via the mitotic process.

Somatic cells inherit the same number of chromosomes as their parents. Because it cannot transmit genetic information, the mutation does not pass on to future generations. Somatic cells can transform into many different types of cells to cause various injuries, such as cancer. There are approximately 220 different somatic cells in the human body that allow for asexual mitosis cell reproduction. It helps form the building blocks of all the other cells of the living organism.

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Specialized cells in the body

Some of the specialized somatic cells are listed below. One of its instances includes skin cells. Skin cells contain their own set of renewing cells.

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Nerve cells

Special somatic cells transmit and receive electrical and chemical signals from the brain, spinal cord, and other body parts. Nerve cells are in charge of controlling and coordinating physical activities. They have specialized mechanisms for maintaining specific voltages. If it changes its voltage, it alarms the body with an electrochemical signal called an action potential. When an action potential occurs in the neuron, it releases neurotransmitter chemicals that affect the target cells. Some of the neurotransmitter chemicals include dopamine, serotonin, epinephrine (adrenaline), and histamine.

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Muscle cells

Muscle cells are unique myocyte cells that conduct a variety of bodily activities. They are long, tube-like cells. Cardiac muscles, skeletal muscles, and smooth muscles are the three primary types of muscle cells. Smooth muscle cells are present in the lining of internal organs such as the digestive tract, bladder, uterus, and urinary tract. Cardiac muscles are present in the heart because they have the structure for pumping blood. Skeletal muscles are flesh-like muscles attached to bones that assist in body movement.

Myocytes have different terminology as they have different appearances and characteristics in their shape and structure. The sarcolemma is the cell membrane of myocytes, and its mitochondria are sarcosomes; myocyte sarcoplasm is its cytoplasm. The sarcomere is the part of the myocyte that makes muscle movement possible with contraction through the formation of long-chain myofibrils running throughout each muscle fiber. Myocytes cannot produce new cells. It means the muscles can get bigger through regular exercise in adults, but babies have more myocytes than adults.

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Bone cells

Bone cells are somatic cells programmed to replace the old cells with new ones constantly. The two major categories for classifying bone cells are osteoblast and osteoclast. Osteoblast cells help to build and maintain bones. They are cuboid or spherical and are responsible for making protein for bone formation. In addition, they help to communicate and produce specific growth factor molecules to boost bone growth and health. An osteoclast, on the other hand, decomposes and dissolves the old bones. The bone cells have a large cell with multiple nuclei. As the osteoblast or osteoclast cells finish with their work, they undergo the process of cell death called apoptosis.

Blood cells

Blood cells are hemocytes or hematopoietic cells. They are specific somatic cells present in the blood to carry oxygen to different body tissues. Some are distinct in fighting against foreign antigens and helping to defend against infections.

Erythrocytes are red blood cells in the blood responsible for oxygen movement to different body parts. RBCs are biconcave and anucleate in shape in human beings. They also collect the waste product and carbon dioxide from the cell. The blood volume approximately makes up 40-45 percent of Erythrocytes cells in the blood. These cells have a lifespan of 100-120 days. They don’t have a nucleus when they mature.

Leukocytes are white blood cells protecting the human body against viruses, bacteria, and other infections. WBCs are of five types in the blood. They have a life cycle of 3–4 days.

Platelets are small yellow fragments in the blood cells known as thrombocytosis cells. It forms part of the blood content along with plasma. They are usually responsible for clotting the blood in the case of injury. They have a short life span ranging between 5 and 9 days.

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Germ cells compared to Somatic cells

Cell Division: Mitosis vs. Meiosis

Germ cells can produce and reproduce gametes in living things through sexual reproduction. Most living organisms have germ cells that develop in the embryo guts and then migrate to the gonads. These gametes take part in the process of meiosis as they contain one set of chromosomes from the daughter cells they give off. On the other hand, somatic cells are not gametes cells as they have two sets of homologous chromosomes present in the cell nucleus. Each set of chromosomes comes from the father and mother’s sides. Cells with two sets of chromosomes are called diploid cells. Thus, it follows that cell division occurs through continuous mitosis and cytokinesis asexual reproduction. Somatic cells participate in mitosis that helps replace and generate old and damaged cells through this reproduction process.

You can differentiate germ cells as reproductive cells in their mechanism. In contrast, somatic cells are biological cells that develop in the body organs. They are similar to stem cells and gametocytes in multicellular organisms. Somatic cells are “vegetal cells.” Germ cells give birth to spermatozoa and ova to participate in fertilization to form a zygote, differentiating into embryonic cells.

Mutation: Somatic vs. Germ cells

Somatic cells can frequently mutate compared to germ cells, which makes them helpful in replicating cells with identical clones of themselves. However, a mutation in such cells has no role in sexual reproduction and genetic evolution. In contrast, germ cells transfer the genetic information in the mutation process to the next generation.

In somatic cells, remember that animals’ genetic material before injecting a somatic cell into the nucleus is mandatory. Then it is injected into an ovum of another individual of the same species. Somatic cells’ nuclear transmission is a development in which the nucleus transmits to an ovum cell. Implantation of the ovum then takes place in the uterus, which results in identical twins or clones. Thus, somatic cells help conserve the genetic information of living organisms. However, genetic engineering and somatic cell manipulation are pretty controversial topics in the biotechnology and its research.