Monday, 16 March 2015

Hour 2: The cycle of life

Dear diary,

Time seems to pass by in a flurry of diffusion and CO2 release. All is quiet except for the distant rhythmic pulsing of the nearby blood vessels and the occasional bustle of sporadic oxygen molecules. I wish I could describe the amazing landscape that surrounds me, with the synergy of cells working in unison to create…well, life. But unfortunately all I see is pitch black. I can only distinguish my whereabouts by the different squidgy sounds different organs make when I accidentally brush against them.

All my neighbouring cells seem to be interested in is proliferating. You will find them sticking out their membranes with an air of superiority, importantly announcing to whoever is in their vicinity that they are about to enter the M-phase. The ‘M-phase’! They won’t even call it by its full name (mitosis) because they say only newly-split cells call it that. For those human readers that are not cells, mitosis is the step where cells finally manage to divide themselves into two identical copies. I mean, talk about being narcissistic! Luckily, mitosis is not as easy as it sounds…cells first have to go through the G1-phase (they call it the ‘growth phase’, but really, they just get fat), then the S-phase (there they get to copy all the crappy stuff that is in their heart, or nucleus…like DNA), and then another growth phase called G2 (the cell’s equivalent of putting on weight, then stuffing its face more because the diet starts tomorrow). Only once they’ve done all that, do they get to enter the M-phase. But don’t worry, none of them are actually splitting. Nutrients and oxygen are too scarce lately, and most of us wouldn’t be able to reach G1 even if we wanted to!

Sometimes, you will find a cell sneakily pinching its mid-riff and, with an irritating air of supremacy, whisper in a strained voice that it is time, it’s undergoing cytokinesis. These types of statements are usually acclaimed with a tense silence, bursting with a mixture of jealousy and curiosity. Yet, when after several minutes the cell is still formed by one intact globule, with no trace of a contractile ring, most cancer cells will begin to call its bluff. The shamed cell will then have to admit to still having a single nucleus, and resume its plump shape. Believe it or not, cytokinesis is the step after mitosis (I know, life is complicated for us cells)…just picture it as the phase where the cell is now as gigantic as a sumo wrestler, complete with double everything (organelle wise). Now picture a person coming along and placing a really skinny belt on the belly of this gigantic sumo, and insisting on tightening the buckle until the sumo actually splits into two. Well there you have it, cytokinesis.

As usual, nobody pays me much attention except for those rare glances at my chromatin (I really need to comb that DNA of mine), just to make sure I will not suddenly split myself into two and beat them all at it. Not that I have any intention of doing so. I don’t really understand their fascination for constantly bloating and splitting. Imagine your biggest aim in life being to split into two? No thank you, I am perfectly comfortable sticking to my Go-phase (the phase where you don’t bloat, and instead look toned and gorgeous).

I wonder if one day I’ll become just as pointless as the rest of them. They told me it’s the ‘cycle of life’. I guess only time will tell.  

Cell X

No comments:

Post a Comment