Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Science Byte

Welcome to my new regular feature - Science Byte. Since starting the new semester, I've been extremely busy with my Master's and course work. So I thought I'd incorporate that into my blogging goals (to blog more than once a day). On a regular basis, I'll post a Science Byte - a small tidbit of interesting (ok, interesting to me) information. I'll usually open up an old text book at random & tell you about the first thing I see - or maybe I'll tell you about a recent article I've read. In any case, I'll try to explain things in the simplest terms possible... which might make fellow scientists cringe a little, so I apologize in advance.

Today I've been working on my smooth muscle course work. Did you know there are 3 different types of muscle? When you think of muscle, you're most likely picturing skeletal muscle. This is the meat you eat & the muscle you control to move yourself. The other 2 types of muscle are cardiac & smooth - neither of which you can control. Cardiac muscle obviously makes up the heart whereas smooth muscle can be found throughout the body, typically surrounding tubes (like the intestines, airways & blood vessels). In terms of how they look under the microscope, skeletal muscle cells are really long and striated - you can see the stripes of their contractile machinery. Smooth muscle is organized differently: they have a spindle shape and are not striated. Cardiac muscle is sort of in between the other 2: it's striated, but is composed of smaller cells like smooth muscle.

2 comments:

kate said...

My favourite thing about muscle cells? Multiple nuclei! How cool is that!

Amanda said...

pretty darn cool!!! - but you'll only find multiple nuclei in skeletal muscle because they're so darn long (the length of your bicep long, which is crazy!). their nuclei are also pushed to the side, along the cell membrane, whereas cardiac & smooth muscle have a central nucleus.

*i love histology*