Somatic cell: Definition, Types, Examples, Functions, Characteristics
Somatic cells are all cells in the body except germ cells, namely eggs, and sperm. Learn more about sample cells and how they differ from germ cells.
What are somatic cells?
Somatic cells are cells from organisms that are not germ cells or reproductive cells. Somatic cells are very specialized and can be very different from each other. Some examples of somatic cells include nerve cells, skin cells, and blood cells. Germinal cells have half the number of chromosomes that somatic cells have.
Small Building Materials of Life
When we look at our bodies, it is clear that we are made up of many different parts. In a very general sense, you can say that we have arms and legs, hands and feet, head and chest. Taking a closer look, we can get more specific and mention internal and external organs. We have the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, and skin, not to mention more organs.
If we zoom in even further, with the help of a microscope, we can see that all parts of the body are made of small building blocks called cells. Every living thing is made of cells. In this article, we will learn about cell categories called somatic cells. We will gain an understanding of where cells in the body fall into this category, and learn some specific examples.
Definition of somatic cells
As mentioned earlier, all living things consist of cells. In plants and animals, there are two main categories of cells: somatic cells, and cells involved in reproduction. This cell reproduction is known as germ cells or gametes. In humans and other animals, they are eggs and sperm.
All other cells in the body are somatic cells. Think about every part of the body that you have: they are all made of somatic cells. The word somatic comes from the Greek word, soma, which means body. You can think of soma as an abbreviation for so many. This is because when germ cells only include eggs and sperm, somatic cells cover a large number of cell types.
Characteristics of somatic cells
- Somatic cells have genetic information from individuals in their nuclei.
- Somatic cells are diploid cells, which means that they have two series of 23 chromosomes, with a total of 46 chromosomes, in each of them. Inside each chromosome, there is human genetic information.
- Because somatic cells have genetic information in them, scientists have used various techniques and experiments to try to advance the discovery of the human genome.
- Furthermore, somatic cells can multiply with the same genetic information they have, but only a few times.
- For this reason, somatic cells have a limited life expectancy and cannot renew themselves once formed. When they stop working, they are usually replaced by new somatic cells.
- Another feature of somatic cells is that, unlike sex cells, they do not participate in the reproduction or generation of new cells besides them – a function that reproductive cells have.
- The function of somatic cells is exclusively limited to ensuring the functioning of the system in which they are located.
- Somatic cells have different shapes and sizes depending on their specific function.
- Finally, an important feature of somatic cells is that certain types of mutations – that is, certain changes in genetic information contained in them – can stimulate their cell division and cause them to lose their natural reproductive limitations, so they can divide indefinitely.
- This unlimited reproduction of somatic cells with changes in their DNA is the basis for the emergence of all types of cancer.
Where do most somatic cells occur?
Generally, somatic cells occur in small amounts in various tissues and are physiologically silent. Most of the time they remain active in the tissues until injury or disease makes them active to replace damaged ones. These hematopoietic cells, a type of somatic cell known for blood form their properties and are found in the bone marrow and also in the umbilical cord of a newborn baby. Stromal stem cells are located in the bone marrow and can differentiate into cartilage, adipocytes, bone, or fat Stem nerve cells – This type of somatic cell develops into neurons and most of the myelin sheath that produces oligodendrocytes. Skeletal muscle, Epidermal, Liver
Examples and Types of Somatic Cells
Somatic cells take on various names as they are fully formed in human organs and tissues. At this point, somatic cells have different functions depending on the system in which they are located. Some examples of somatic cells that we find in the human body are:
Neurons: Neurons are a type of somatic cell that is owned by the nervous system, and which has the function of transporting information in the form of signals from the body to the brain.
Red blood cells or erythrocytes. This is the name given to somatic cells found in the blood and belonging to the cardiovascular system, with specific and different functions in transporting oxygen to all tissues of the human body.
White blood cells: they are somatic cells that are also found in the blood, with the function of producing an immune response to any agent, internal or external, which can produce aggression or damage to the body.
Hepatocytes: are somatic cells belonging to liver tissue that perform various functions in the liver, such as the formation of liver tissue and bile.
Melanocytes: They are somatic cells found in the skin whose function is the production of melanin, a natural pigment that in humans determines the color of the skin, hair, and others.
Myocytes: are somatic cells that form muscle fibers, which in turn form muscle tissue. The function of myocytes, or muscle fibers, is to ensure the correct mechanical mobility of the body.
Endothelial cells: are somatic cells that form tissue found in blood vessels. Among its many functions, these cells allow the correct flow (orderly, smooth, and stratified) of the blood, avoiding unwanted adhesions from certain cells that can inhibit the flow.
Chondrocytes: are somatic cells found in cartilage tissue, whose function is the separation of compounds such as collagen and proteoglycans to maintain the shape of the cartilage it composes. Cartilage is the tissue that helps coat or supports certain parts of the body, prevent shock or wear, and provide mobility to certain joints.
Osteocytes: these are somatic cells that, together with other cells (such as osteoclasts) form bone tissue. Bone tissue is one of the components of bone that forms the skeletal system, which has the function of providing support and protection to the tissues, organs, and muscles of the human body, as well as allowing mobility and movement.
As these cells, there is a large diversity of other somatic cells that have the same characteristics: they all have specific functions and are different from other cells that allow the various tissues, organs, and systems of the human body to function.
The list of important types of somatic cells goes on continuously. This shows the diversity and specialization of these small building blocks. Remember, even though we are not looking for them all, somatic cells include all body cells other than eggs and sperm.
Therefore, what is important to remember is that the main feature that determines somatic cells is that they all have specific functions that, when complemented by other cells, give life to the vital functions of the organisms they originate from
Difference between somatic cells and germ cells (germ Cell vs Somatic Cell)
If germ cells belong to one category, and all other cells are somatic, then there must be a big difference between the two cell types. There is, this difference lies in the cell nucleus. At the core of each cell, there is a structure called a chromosome. Chromosomes are made up of genetic material called DNA.
DNA holds all genetic information for every living organism. Genetics has to do with the traits you inherit from your parents. Do you have red hair, maybe like your mother? Or maybe your bright green eyes look like your father’s. Traits such as your body type, hair color, and eye color are directly related to the genetic code that you receive from each of your parents.
As mentioned earlier, genetic information is located on chromosomes in cells. This is where the main difference between somatic cells and germ cells is located. In humans, somatic cells contain 46 chromosomes, while germ cells contain only 23 chromosomes. Why this?
The development of new organisms begins when the egg is fertilized by sperm. In humans, eggs from the mother carry 23 chromosomes, and sperm also have 23. Germ cells have half the number of somatic cell chromosomes. When two germ cells come together, the new organism will get half of the genetic information from each parent. It will have the properties of both mother and father and will therefore have a complete set of chromosomes (46 in the case of humans).
Somatic Cell Function
- Somatic cells are adult stem cells. They are found pretty much everywhere in your body because they are cells that replace old ones, repair damage, and contribute to growth and development.
- During mitosis, somatic cells duplicate DNA and divide it, creating two identical cells. One stem cell remains and the other differentiates into the type of cell needed.
- Somatic cells are found in recesses in different organ tissues. They need to be activated to start dividing.
Diseases that can be treated by harvesting adult stem cells?
In recent years, research relating to the isolation and culture of somatic cells through tissue culture methods has been abundantly carried out. If humans become successful in isolating and spreading large numbers of somatic cells, then they can be very helpful in the treatment of various diseases such as:
In diabetes, insulin production can be rebuilt by replacing damaged or dysfunctional cells of the pancreas
In diseases such as Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis, which affect the brain, it will be possible to distinguish neural stem cells so that neurons and some non-related neuron cells are produced
Heart tissue that is damaged especially during a stroke or disease can be replaced
Different blood conditions cause disease and because hematopoietic stem cells are known to make various blood cells such as platelets, monocytes, B & T lymphocytes, and erythrocytes, replication of blood cell types can help in treating all types of blood-related diseases
Some other cells that can replicate are bone marrow cells, epidermal cells, epithelial intestinal cells, etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are examples of somatic cells?
Answer: Some examples of somatic cells include nerve cells, skin cells, and blood cells.
Do somatic cells diploid?
Answer: The somatic cell is any cell in the body except sperm and egg cells. The somatic cells are diploid, meaning that they contain two sets of chromosomes, each inherited from the parent.
What is the difference between somatic and gamete cells?
Answer: They differ in the number of chromosomal sets. The gametes have a haploid number of chromosomes because a gamete can fuse to form a diploid cell that is zygotic. The somatic cells are again diploid cells, which have two complete chromosomes.
Are egg cells somatic?
Answer: The somatic cell is any cell in the body except sperm and egg cells.
What is somatic cell and germ cell?
Answer: A somatic cell is usually taken from any cell to form the body of an organism. In mammals, germline cells are sperm and ova (also known as “gametes”), which fuse during fertilization to form a cell called a zygote, from which the entire mammalian embryo develops.
Where are somatic cells found?
Answer: Every other cell type in the mammalian body, apart from sperm and egg, are the cells from which they are made (gametocytes) and inducible stem cells, a somatic cell; The skin, bones, blood, and connective tissue of internal organs are all made up of somatic cells.
How many somatic cells are there in the human body?
Answer: Somatic Cell Meaning: The word somatic comes from the Greek word (μα (soma), meaning body. In the human body, there are about 220 types of somatic cells.
Do all somatic cells have the same DNA code?
Answer and Explanation:
Yes, every human cell in the human body has the same DNA code. During cell division, DNA replication occurs which means the same.
Do somatic cells arise from mitosis?
Answer: Mitosis produces two diploid (2n) somatic cells meaning that are genetically identical to each other and parent stem cells, while meiosis produces four haploid (n) gametes that are genetically distinct from each other. And the original parent cell.