Cell Biology Introduction

From CellBiology

ANAT3231 Cell Biology online lectures from the 2017 course.


Cork Bark by Robert Hooke 1665

This lecture will have two main parts.

  1. The first will introduce the current 2017 course structure, content and evaluation ANAT3231 Cell Biology.
  2. The second part, shown below, will give an introduction some of the historic background of cell biology as a branch of science and its current place in scientific research. American Society Cell Biology

Dr Mark Hill

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Lecture Audio

The University has a system for automated recording of lectures called ECHO360. Lectopia requires login using your student number and unipass. These audio recordings appear in the course Moodle page. Due to the automated recording method, most lectures begin 4-5 minutes into MP3 recordings and occasionally stop before the end of the lecture.

Lecture PDF

Course Online Support

2017 Course Outline


Wiki icon.jpg The course is supported online by a Wiki resource that allows student access to lecture and practical class materials, as well as the current location for Group project work carried out throughout the semester.


Unsw moodle icon.jpg UNSW Australia currently uses Moodle for course learning management. I will be adding course content throughout the semester, additional course resources, student discussion, and will also use for student contact. Moodle page

Links: UNSW Uni-verse mobile app for android and iPhone. The app provides access to augmented reality maps, Blackboard, Moodle, class times and more.


Typical cell membrane bound compartments
Typical cell membrane bound compartments
  • Introduction to the Course
  • Understand Historic Background of Cell Biology
  • Understand current role of Cell Biology in scientific research
  • Brief understanding of Cell Structure and Function

Introduction to the Course

Essential Cell Biology (4th ed.)

I will spend some at the beginning of today's lecture introducing the course, its assessment, online support and content before giving you a brief introduction to the history of Cell Biology.

This year we will have some excellent guest research lecturers.

  • Dr Thomas Fath who will be covering topics on the cell cytoskeleton and a laboratory based upon research techniques.
  • Dr Till Boecking will be covering his cell biology topics.
  • Dr Anthony Kee will introduce cell knockout methods.
  • Dr Annemiek Beverdam will introduce stem cells.
  • Dr Helen Speirs will describe analytical techniques at the Ramaciotti Centre for Genomics.
  • Dr Michael Carnell will demonstrate the new microscopy techniques at the Biomedical Image Facility (BMIF).

Human Cells

  • 210+ cell types in body
  • total number of estimated cells in the body - 1013 (American Ten trillion/British Ten billion)


  • bacteria, fungi and archaea
  • found on all surfaces exposed to the environment
    • skin and eyes, in the mouth, nose, small intestine
  • most bacteria live in the large intestine
  • 500 to 1000 species of bacteria live in the human gut
  • total number of estimated flora ten times as many bacteria 1014 (American One hundred trillion/British One hundred billion)

Cell Sizes

  • 1000 micron (1mm) diameter - frog or fish egg are the largest individual cells easily visible,
  • 100 micron diameter - human or sea urchin egg
  • 30 x 20 micron - plant cells
  • 20 micron diameter - typical somatic cell
  • 2 x 1 micron - bacteria
  • 0.2 micron - approximate optical microscope resolution

1 micron or micrometre is one millionth of a metre. (1 x 10-6)

Red White Blood cells 01.jpg

Early History

Cork Bark by Robert Hooke 1665
  • Robert Hooke (1635-1703)- used early microscopes to view cork tree bark, was the first to use the term CELL
  • Robert Brown 1825 - identified nuclei in plant cells
  • Theodor Schwann (1810 - 1882) - together with Matthias Schleiden (plants) developed the cell theory in 1839

Cell Theory

  • All organisms consist of one or more cells
  • The cell is the basic unit of structure for all cells
  • All cells arise only from preexisting cells

Consider Cell Biology as the "Anatomy of Cells".


Cork cells today (sem)
  • Cells are too small to see by the naked eye
  • Antony van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) - developed some of the earliest microscopes
  • Modern Microscopes
    • Bright Field, Fluorescence, Phase Contrast, Dark Field, Differential Interference, Digital Video Microscopy, Confocal, 2 photon confocal, spinning disc confocal, total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF), Stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM), photoactivation localization microscopy (PALM), stimulated emission depletion (STED) and photobleaching imprinting microscopy (PIM).
  • Electron Microscope (EM)
    • Transmission, scanning, scanning tunneling
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Super Resolution Microscopy (see below)

MH - This topic will also be covered in your laboratory Microscopy Milestones | PDF

Cell Biology 20th Century

  • Arose from 3 separate fields becoming interwoven over the last 50 years - Cytology, Biochemistry and Genetics


  • Oldest branch
  • Dependent on optical techniques
  • 1870 invention of microtome for sectioning biological specimens
  • Light Microscope


  • 1828 Freidrich Wohler showed urea synthesis from ammonium and cyanate (organic compounds synthesized from inorganic compounds)
  • biological chemistry (biochemistry) the same as all other chemistry
  • 1868 Louis Pasteur shows yeast cells needed for fermentation of sugar into alcohol (living organisms for specific chemical processes)
  • 1897 Hans Buchner shows that extract from yeast cells also works (enzymes)
  • 1920’s-30’s Biochemical pathways (glycolysis, Krebs cycle (TCA), ATP for energy)


  • 1866 Gregor Mendel hereditary factors (genes) and segregation (took 35 years before work recognised)
  • 1876 Walther Flemming identified chromosomes
  • 1900 Walter Sutton chromosome theory of inheritence
  • 1944 Avery et al. genetic transformation in Bacteria)
  • 1953 James Watson and Francis Crick double helix model
  • 1973 First recombinant bacteria PMID 4594039


Cell Biology 21st Century

Quantum dot labeled microtubules

The structure and function of cells has now become a blend of basic research and clinical topics. The tools have also expanded with growth of molecular and analytical techniques.

Example - signaling mechanisms

  • cell and tissue development
  • stem cells and differentiation
  • cell abnormalities (disease, oncogenesis)
  • cell degeneration

Example - super resolution microscopy

New Cell Biology Tools

(MH - Covered in the laboratories of this course)

Online Sources

See 3 Cell Biology textbooks below.



  • Nature Cell Biology publishes papers of the highest quality from all areas of cell biology, encouraging those that shed light on the molecular mechanisms responsible for fundamental cell biological processes. The journal's scope is broad and includes the following areas (not listed in order of preference):
    • Specific areas of interest include, but are not limited to: Cellular and molecular mechanisms of development, Stem cell biology, Membrane traffic (protein sorting and organelles), Cell adhesion and migration, Cytoskeletal dynamics, Autophagy, Cell cycle and cell growth, DNA replication and repair, Apoptosis and cell death, Signal transduction, Protein degradation, Organization of the nucleus and nuclear transport, Cellular and molecular mechanisms of human disease, including cancer (provided that the primary focus is on general processes of cell biology)
    • Example PMID 26878396 Extracellular matrix scaffolding guides lumen elongation
    • 2013 Series on Cancer Cell Biology - "Cancer is a disease of deregulated cellular behaviour. Oncogenic alterations endow cancer cells with properties that allow them to hijack normal cellular processes resulting in unlimited proliferation, evasion of death signals and spread to distant sites through the process of metastasis."
  • Cell publishes findings of unusual significance in any area of experimental biology, including but not limited to cell biology, molecular biology, neuroscience, immunology, virology and microbiology, cancer, human genetics, systems biology, signaling, and disease. The basic criterion for considering papers is whether the results provide significant conceptual advances into, or raise provocative questions and hypotheses regarding, an interesting biological question. In addition to primary research articles in four formats, Cell features review and opinion articles on recent research advances and issues of interest to its broad readership in the Leading Edge section.
  • Journal of Cell Biology
    • From the JCB Archive | Sorted JCB Archive
    • "The discipline of cell biology emerged and developed on the pages of the JCB. Many seminal discoveries have been published in the journal, including the first descriptions of numerous cellular functions and structures, such as the secretory pathway (Siekevitz and Palade, 1958, 1960; Caro and Palade, 1964; Jamieson and Palade, 1967a,b, 1971), mitochondrial (Nass and Nass, 1963a,b) and chloroplast (Ris and Plaut, 1962) DNA, microtubules (Slautterback, 1963; Ledbetter and Porter, 1963), intermediate filaments (Ishikawa et al., 1968), tight junctions (Farquhar and Palade, 1963) (including occludins [Furuse et al., 1993] and claudins [Furuse et al., 1998]), adherens junctions (Farquhar and Palade, 1963), and cadherins (Takeichi, 1977)."
  • Science - Cell Biology

American Society for Cell Biology

Ibioseminars - Free online Cell Biology Seminars from ASCB. Cell Biology

MBoC - recent example paper Mechanism of nuclear movements in a multinucleated cell


ANAT3231 References


Search Online Textbooks

External Links

2017 Course Content


Lectures: Cell Biology Introduction | Cells Eukaryotes and Prokaryotes | Cell Membranes and Compartments | Cell Nucleus | Cell Export - Exocytosis | Cell Import - Endocytosis | Cytoskeleton Introduction | Cytoskeleton - Microfilaments | Cytoskeleton - Microtubules | Cytoskeleton - Intermediate Filaments | Cell Mitochondria | Cell Junctions | Extracellular Matrix 1 | Extracellular Matrix 2 | Cell Cycle | Cell Division | Cell Death 1 | Cell Death 2 | Signal 1 | Signal 2 | Stem Cells 1 | Stem Cells 2 | Development | 2017 Revision

2017 Laboratories: Introduction to Lab | Fixation and Staining |

2017 Projects: Group 1 - Delta | Group 2 - Duct | Group 3 - Beta | Group 4 - Alpha

Dr Mark Hill 2015, UNSW Cell Biology - UNSW CRICOS Provider Code No. 00098G