Science Resources

Inside the Cell

Want to get a crash course into modern cell and molecular biology, but do not have the time to read an entire textbook or watch two dozen video lectures? Then this booklet on the molecular biology of cells will serve as a great resource.

Why are cells so important for understand how the human body works? How do mitochondria work? What is the difference between Golgi and the ER? What is DNA and how is it replicated? How do new proteins form? Is smell a form of taste? How do neurotransmitters in a vesicle leave the cell?

What are embryonic stem cells? What is the difference between mitosis and meiosis? What is the process of glycosylation? What roles does the molecule ubiquitin have? What is a model organism and why are they important in biological research? What genetic processes make you unique? What is Werner syndrome? Why do cells have the tools for their own destruction? How does apoptosis differ from necrosis? How has high-throughput -omics revolutionized biology?

The cell is the basic unit of life. They can join together into tissues and organs that control vital aspects of human existence. The inside of cells are equally fascinating. Different organelles inside the cell are involved in replication, transforming basic building blocks into cellular structures, producing proteins, moving different substances across the cell and many more exciting events.

Inside the Cell is a short molecular biology textbook from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. They call it a booklet, but with its 84 pages that cover material from cellular compartments and cell specializations to cell cycle and cellular aging with enough scientific detail to give a good understanding but without the confusing bloat, it rightly deserves the label book despite its brevity.

Another great booklet on genetics and genomics from the same publisher is The New Genetics. It covers everything from microRNAs to the genetic underpinnings of many diseases. For more details into specific areas of molecular biology, check out The Hallmarks of Cancer paper that provides a great overview of the molecular biology of cancer. For those that do have time for a full video course, check out Evolution, Ecology and Behavior Video Lectures From Yale.

Who is Inside the Cell booklet for? While it is too brief for a textbook for a university course, it is suitable for anyone who wants to learn more about the basics of cell biology and its connections to genetics, molecular biology and issues such as cell constituents and cell proliferation, or, in other words, what can be found inside cells and how do cells make more of themselves?

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Inside the Cell consists of five separate chapters. The first chapter is a survey of some of the major compartments inside the cell, such as the nucleus that contains DNA, mitochondria that are the power plants of the cell, lysosomes that breaks down and recycle spent cellular materials and so on. The second chapters looks into the day-to-day functions of the cell, such as how it converts chemically bound energy in food to useful energy for the cell to use in constructing components and duplicating itself as well as how stuff is moved around the cell to the places they need to be, such as molecular motors and membrane channels.

The third chapter discusses stem cells and how different cell types are formed and their functions such as muscle cells and the cells in the immune system. The fourth chapter covers cellular reproduction, both mitosis and meiosis, as well as the cell cycle. The fifth and final chapter covers cellular aging and death with a particular focus on oxidative damage and telomere shortening. Besides the main content, there are also special in-focus sections on diseases, summaries and a set of problems at the end of each chapter to reinforce learning. With its many large visualizations, it is a joy to read.

Inside the Cell is geared towards those who are interested in modern biology but may not have that much background on the subject. It can also work as a brief refresher for those that already have a background in biology, but want to freshen up on some of the basics.

Inside the Cell can be read online here or downloaded in PDF format here. A cached version of the online book can be found here, and a cache of the PDF version can be found here.


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