As humans, our surroundings can make us naturally prone to stress. Whether it’s an overwhelming situation or a big responsibility, there are a plethora of reason that humans become stressed. But have you ever thought about how our own bodies and cells undergo their own kinds of stress? The environment that we are exposed to has an impact on the way that our cells operate, and recent research has provided information about how they can cope with it.
A source from the University of Chicago recently released this article that dives into the facts about the heat-shock of cells and how their adaptation of stress is one of the fundamental processes of life. In fact, this doesn’t only apply t0 our own cells, it also exists in single-celled organisms. The article cites the example of a yeast cell sitting on a bowl of fruit in the kitchen, but as the sunlight begins to warm up the kitchen, the environment becomes less pleasant for the yeast cell. For years, researchers have concentrated on how various genes react to heat stress as a way to understand this survival strategy. Now, because of the innovative application of sophisticated imaging techniques, scientists are obtaining an unprecedented view of the inner workings of cells to see how they react to heat-stress. Cells use a protective mechanism for their orphan ribosomal proteins by preserving them in liquid-like condensates. These proteins are essential for growth but are particularly susceptible to clustering when regular cell processing stops. The condensates are dispersed by molecular chaperon proteins when the heat-shock has passed. This enables the integration of the orphaned proteins into functional mature ribosomes that can start churning out proteins. The cell can resume its work without losing energy thanks to the rapid restart of ribosome manufacturing. This source from The Journal of Applied Physiology studies the importance of thermotolerance and acclimatization and how they allow an organism to survive what would normally be a lethal heat stress. Thermotolerance is defined as an organism’s ability to survive in high temperatures. Acclimatization is an organism’s ability to complete more work in the heat because of improvements in heat dissipation which is brought on by frequent, small increases in core temperature. These two factors of heat adaptation help us to understand the impact of cellular stress on an organism’s adaptation to its environment. In addition, this PubMed mentions how the effects of mild heat stress are just as important as those of severe heat stress. The cellular response to fever-ranged mild heat stress is very substantial from a physiological standpoint. When an organism’s temperature is displaying a fever, the body temperature only increases about 1-2 degrees Celsius. This is helpful information because it can help researchers determine how our cells are affected by illness when our body temperature rises to a fever.
There is plenty to discover about the inner workings of our cells. Our capabilities improve every day, but one thing stays the same: our cells will continue to adapt to heat stress in order to regulate the temperatures of our environment that surrounds us. As we have studied the contents of the cell in AP Bio, we have learned about the roles that the organelles play in the function of the cell. The specific organelles that are involved in cellular stress response are Endoplasmic Reticulum, Golgi Apparatus, lysosomes, and mitochondria. Their role in this process is to connect changes in metabolite levels to cellular reactions. The lipid membranes of organelles sense the changes in specific metabolites and activate the appropriate signaling and effector molecules. Our studies about cells and membranes have taught us about the roles of these organelles, but this research solidifies what we know about cells and can be helpful to understand how metabolism works in our cells. That is part of what moved me to research this topic. I had never learned anything about cellular stress and how it is regulated, so it was an interesting opportunity to get to learn about it. This research about cell adaptation only adds to the understanding that we have gained from learning about the cell and how it has evolved from its origins. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the this. How do you think that these recent findings will be helpful for future discoveries in medicine?