Connections between Cells and Cellular Activities

Free Response

How does the structure of a plasmodesma differ from that of a gap junction?


They differ because plant cell walls are rigid. Plasmodesmata, which a plant cell needs for transportation and communication, are able to allow movement of really large molecules. Gap junctions are necessary in animal cells for transportation and communication.

Explain how the extracellular matrix functions.


The extracellular matrix functions in support and attachment for animal tissues. It also functions in the healing and growth of the tissue.

Pathogenic E. coli have recently been shown to degrade tight junction proteins during infection. How would this provide an advantage to the bacteria?


E. coli infections generally cause food poisoning, meaning that the invading bacteria cross from the lumen of the gut into the rest of the body. Tight junctions hold the epithelial layer that lines the digestive tract together so that the material that crosses into the body is tightly regulated. One way E. coli can avoid this regulation is to destroy the tight junctions so that it can enter the body between the epithelial cells, rather than having to go through the cells.