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Chapter: Essentials of Anatomy and Physiology: Cell Structures and their Functions

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Function of the cell

List the four main functions of a cell.

Function of the cell


Cells are the smallest units that have all the characteristics of life. Our body cells perform several important functions:

1.Cell metabolism and energy use. The chemical reactions that occur within cells are collectively called cell metabolism. Energy released during metabolism is used for cell activities, such as the synthesis of new molecules, muscle contraction, and heat production, which helps maintain body temperature.

2.Synthesis of molecules. Cells synthesize various types of molecules, including proteins, nucleic acids, and lipids. The different cells of the body do not all produce the same molecules. Therefore, the structural and functional characteristics of cells are determined by the types of molecules they produce.

3.Communication. Cells produce and receive chemical and electrical signals that allow them to communicate with one another. For example, nerve cells communicate with one another and with muscle cells, causing muscle cells to contract.

4.Reproduction and inheritance. Each cell contains a copy of the genetic information of the individual. Specialized cells (sperm cells and oocytes) transmit that genetic information to the next generation.

 


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