Name: __________________________________________________________ Period: _______

Cell Differentiation in Progress


Background information:


Every cell in your body is the offspring of another cell and has the same genetic information as the fertilized egg from which it developed. This is the result of DNA replication and mitosis. It is amazing that the many different types of cells all arise from a single fertilized egg cell. Yet that is what happens during embryo development. Initially, all the cells in the embryo are alike. But as they divide, they become more specialized and produce their own characteristic proteins. Cells that have the ability to produce a variety of types of specialized cells are called stem cells. Stem cells are cells in the body whose job has not yet been determined. The process by which stem cells produce specialized cells is called differentiation. As differentiation progresses, segments of the genetic material (DNA) are either expressed (turned on) or not expressed (turned off).



1.      Find out what type of cell has been assigned to your lab station.

2.      Start with one cell per lab station.

3.      Using the DNA Instruction Book, follow the directions in Figure 10-1 for making your type of cell. Every time you go through mitosis, come to the front lab station and get another cell (or more cells).

4.      Answer the analysis questions.


Figure 10-1


If your cell is a

Follow these gene # instructions

Intestinal cell

11, 23,  1, 13, 12, 14, 1, 4, 23, 14, 1, 15, 17

Muscle cell

3,  23, 1, 5,11, 14, 1,12, 15, 16, 14, 14 (yes, again), 7,18

Nerve cell

23, 1, 5, 9, 10, 11, 23, 12, 1, 14, 4, 15, 19

Red blood cell

8, 6, 11, 14, 8, 24, 8, 8, 7, 15, 20

Pancreas cell

23, 1, 5, 11, 12, 1, 13, 14, 15, 4, 21

Skin cell

2, 1, 5, 1, 11, 12, 23, 14, 1, 15, 4, 22





1.      What is the difference between a stem cell and a differentiated cell, such as a red blood cell?



2.       What is differentiation?




3.      How do stem cells differentiate even though they all have the same genetic information (DNA)?




4.      The six types of cells in this activity have the same genetic information. What process ensures that all cells get a complete set of the same genetic information?



5.      Visit the other lab stations to answer the following questions: How does a muscle cell look different from a skin cell?



6.      What do muscle cells make?



7.      What protein do skin cells make? What is the purpose of this protein?



8.      How does a red blood cell look different from a nerve cell?



9.      What protein do red blood cells make? What is the purpose of this protein?



10.  What protein(s) do nerve cells make? What is the purpose of this protein?



11.  What protein do pancreas cells make? What is the purpose of this protein?



12.  What protein (enzyme) do intestinal cells make? What is the purpose of this protein?