Photo of stem cell differentiation from Wikimedia Commons
Every biology student at some point has heard of the term “cell differentiation.” At the most basic level, cell differentiation is how cells become specialized in organisms to perform unique functions. This differentiation or specialization is directed by genetic expression and activation as well as cell needs (as we specifically learned about a few chapters back). Differentiation can drastically alter a cell’s structure, function, and resources needed for survival. Also, specialized cells can be redirected or transformed into a pluripotent cell after specialization if directed by its surroundings and gene expression. And speaking of pluripotency, modern technology has allowed us to artificially create cells that can differentiate called stem cells.