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ANIMAL CELLS:      Page 1
For Parents & Teachers

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     "Boy! It sure is a lot quieter out here in the blood stream!  That's the easiest place to find a white blood cell.  They are formed inside bone marrow and hunt around in the blood until they catch the scent of an invading bacterium.  Then the white blood cell tracks the bacterium down and kills it before it can make you sick.  There's Willy the white blood cell floating by now!   Hey! Willy!  Over here!"

     "Good afternoon Chloe!  What brings you here?"

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     "Well, I'm showing my friend around to different kind of cells.  I was hoping you'd let us see what makes you tick.   You can do so many amazing things, it sure would be interesting to see some of it up close."

     "Sure, take your time, I'm not getting any signals that there is any trouble."

     "Thanks, Willy!

     "One of Willy's biggest assets is his plasma membrane.  He sure has a lot of it, doesn't he?

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     "He also has a lot of organelles called 'granules' that contain all sorts of different enzymes that Willy uses to kill bacteria.   The granules are like his arsenal.  Let's take a close look at Willy's plasma membrane.  All animal cells have a plasma membrane, of course, but his is particularly impressive.

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     "The plasma membrane, like all the membranes of the cell, is basically made up of fats and proteins.  They make up a thin sheet that surrounds the cell contents much like a balloon.  Willy's plasma membrane has a lot of ruffles that increase the amount of plasma membrane he has.  Sticking out of these ruffles are special proteins that can do various things.  For instance, Willy has special proteins (the green ones shown above) that sniff out bacteria.  When they detect bacteria, these special proteins cause the plasma membrane to extend toward the scent, pulling the rest of Willy with it.  Little by little, Willy will crawl to the bacteria.

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     "Then he uses the purple special proteins to grab on to the bacteria and pull it into his cytoplasm.  Once Willy touches the bacteria, he sends out signals to call in more white blood cells to help kill the infection!

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     "Once the bacteria are surrounded by plasma membrane and pulled into the cytoplasm, granules dump their contents in with the bacteria.   These contents kill the germ.  One of the weapons is an enzyme called 'myeloperxidase', and it makes bleach.  This enzyme makes so much bleach that the level rises to that of full strength chlorox!

     "Willy, you sure are amazing!  Thanks for showing us your stuff!"

     "No problem Chloe.  See you later!"

     "Well, I need to mosey on now.  Why don't you go find RayNA.  He'll show you how proteins are made.  Thank you so much for visiting with me!  And do come back to say hello!"

 

ANIMAL CELLS:      Page 1   For Parents & Teachers

 

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