6 Characteristics of somatic cells

Somatic cells make up our tissues, and constitute the majority of our total cells. The only cells that are different, that is, are not somatic, are called germ cells.

The somatic cells of our body store our genetic information, they divide by mitosis, and they come in different shapes and sizes. Our body is made up of different types of somatic cells, for example the cells that form the epidermis, the musculoskeletal system, neurons, or others.

If you are interested in learning more about what somatic cells are, their characteristics and examples , we invite you to continue reading this article where you will find the information necessary to learn everything about somatic cells.

What are somatic cells and their function

Somatic cells are the type of cell that make up all the tissues in our body . Most of the human body is made up of somatic cells, since they build the tissues of the organs that make up our systems and devices. In an individual, any cell can be somatic, except the sperm and egg cells known as germ cells.

Some of the functions of somatic cells are:

  • They ensure that our body is functioning correctly .
  • They are responsible for the growth, repair and regeneration of the various tissues that make up our body.
  • They differ from each other and, depending on the type of somatic cell, they fulfill various specific functions .
  • They have our genetic information stored .
  • It is used in cloning . The famous cloning of Dolly the sheep was carried out from an adult somatic cell, which was carried out by “somatic cell nuclear transfer.”
  • Its manipulation is controversial , however, it is of great importance for biotechnology and research.

Characteristics of somatic cells

  1. In us humans, they are diploid cells (2n), that is, they have two complete sets of chromosomes . In total we have 46 chromosomes in each of our somatic cells.
  2. Cell division of diploid somatic cells is by mitosis , not meiosis. At the end of the mitotic division, two daughter cells identical to the mother are obtained (initial somatic cell). Learn about the 4 phases of Mitosis .
  3. The shape and size of somatic cells is variable, as it depends on the system or apparatus to which it belongs.
  4. This type of cell comes from stem cells originating in embryonic development.
  5. They are more likely to experience mutations compared to germ cells. However, something redeemable is that the mutations are not transmitted to the next generation.
  6. They are used in species cloning processes .

Examples of somatic cells

There are various types of somatic cells in our body, among them we have:

  • Blood Cells: are those found in the blood. There are three types: white blood cells, or leukocytes; red blood cells, or erythrocytes; and thrombocytes, or also called platelets. Here you will find more information about Blood Cells: what they are and types .
  • Neural Cells: These are the cells that make up the brain tissue, the spinal cord and all the nerve endings. Nerve cells have rapid communication with the rest of the somatic cells, such as muscle cells. You may be interested in the Neuron: what it is, types, parts and functions .
  • Splenic Cells: they are the cells that make up the spleen, they are closely related to blood regulation, since it is produced in this organ.
  • Renal Cells: They are found in the kidney , and they have the function of filtering the substances that our body discards.
  • Pancreatic Cells: are those found in the pancreas. They are responsible for secreting glucagon, so they are essential for the body’s metabolism.
  • Lung Cells: They are found in the lungs, and they have the ability to filter blood and oxygenate it.
  • Epithelial Cells: are the cells that form the largest organ in our body, the skin, or also called the epidermis. We recommend you read this article on Epithelial Cells: what they are, functions and types .
  • Muscle Cells: They are present in the tissue of our muscles. These cells are involved in the mechanical movements of the body.
  • Bone Cells: These are the cells that make up the bone structure of the body. There are three types: osteoblasts, osteoclasts and osteocytes.
  • Intestinal Cells: this type of somatic cell, also known as “enterocytes”, is found in the intestine and colon, whose function is to absorb certain foods.
  • Liver Cells: They are the cells of the parenchyma, and they have the function of synthesizing the salts that enter with the diet and the cholesterol from food.
  • Pituitary Cells: this type of somatic cells have the function of promoting the secretion of hormones produced by the thyroid and prolactin.
  • Rods or rods: these cells are related to vision in low light conditions, and fulfill photoreceptor roles.
  • Glial cells: they are found in the nervous tissue, and their main function is to ensure a correct process of neural electrical transmission.
  • Leydig cells: found in the testicles. Its function is to produce the sex hormone testosterone.
  • Sertoli cells: they are located in the seminiferous tubes of each testicle, whose function is to secrete hormones related to the preparation of gametes.
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