It is amazing to think that a few keystrokes, mouse clicks and just a few keystrokes can control over 80% of the genes and their activities within prokaryotic cells, but they can! The cell control on this POGIL worksheet answers the question, “What is my body like when it is at rest?
There are more than 3 billion prokaryotic cells in the human body. With the two fundamental changes we are discussing here, that the cells are alive and can be manipulated, the possibilities are endless for understanding the nature of cellular life itself.
We now know that when we look at life as it occurs at rest, we are looking at an actively lineage cell that regulates its metabolic activity to generate energy. The active lineage cell is self-organized and highly energetic. This means that in this active lineage cell, the only thing that can make it go wrong is if it was to run out of energy, or had a sudden fall in metabolic activity.
In that case, the energy available to the active lineage cell will now have to come from somewhere else, and so the cells can choose to run out of energy to bring it to its present state. In this situation, if there is a sudden increase in temperature, then there may be a decline in the metabolic rate, and that would bring about a severe decline in the body’s ability to get its energy needs met.
There will be some cells that are on the verge of die-off and collapse, and others which are not yet active, but which need to maintain their activity and nutrient delivery system so that they can continue to provide their cell with their needed resources. Thus, the cells will be negatively affected by the drop in metabolism, and the rate of their proliferation will therefore be slowed down, but this will make them more able to survive. With a larger number of these starved cells, a proportion of the population will survive, and they will spread through the body to the areas they need.
But what if the active lineage cell went out of control? Then it would be pretty difficult to get a handle on it until it had started to collapse, and it would be a lot more difficult to create a dead zone where the ambient temperature was sufficient to permit the growth of organisms without water, but at temperatures below those which are necessary for survival.
So, a better method of controlling gene expression is to use a second cell. The second cell can take the cell’s temperature, and when it has dropped to a critical level, it can be co-opted into doing the job.
If you want to control gene expression in a macroscopic cells, for example your prostate, then to do this you would need to create a number of thermophilic prokaryotic cells that can live in a temperature range suitable for prostate tissue, and then deliver enough nutrients to allow them to grow and multiply. In addition, as mentioned earlier, the temperature and nutrient delivery system can be manipulated so that the macroscopic cells can be brought into the right state to tolerate the requisite temperature for growth, and then they can be used to manipulate gene expression in an externally controlled manner.