Sauer, Helmut Department of Biology, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas.
Last reviewed:January 2021
Show previous versions
- Differentiated cells
- Process of differentiation
- Cell determination
- Embryonic induction
- Cellular nonequivalence
- Cellular change
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The mechanism by which cells in a multicellular organism become specialized to perform specific functions in a variety of tissues and organs. Cell differentiation is the process through which cells are transformed into divergent types of cells having particular functions (see illustration). Cell differentiation is regulated genetically; that is, certain genes are turned on, whereas others are turned off, determining the outcome of cell differentiation. In terms of development, the life cycle of a higher organism begins with a unicellular stage—the fertilized egg—and becomes more complex as the individual grows and takes on its characteristic form. The life cycle of a unicellular organism permits temporary change in shape and chemical composition. Only a multicellular organism can afford irreversibly differentiated cells. See also: Cell (biology); Cell biology; Cell lineage; Developmental biology; Developmental genetics; Gene; Genetics
The content above is only an excerpt.
for your institution. Subscribe
To learn more about subscribing to AccessScience, or to request a no-risk trial of this award-winning scientific reference for your institution, fill in your information and a member of our Sales Team will contact you as soon as possible.
to your librarian. Recommend
Let your librarian know about the award-winning gateway to the most trustworthy and accurate scientific information.
AccessScience provides the most accurate and trustworthy scientific information available.
Recognized as an award-winning gateway to scientific knowledge, AccessScience is an amazing online resource that contains high-quality reference material written specifically for students. Contributors include more than 10,000 highly qualified scientists and 46 Nobel Prize winners.
MORE THAN 8700 articles covering all major scientific disciplines and encompassing the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology and McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science & Technology
115,000-PLUS definitions from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms
3000 biographies of notable scientific figures
MORE THAN 19,000 downloadable images and animations illustrating key topics
ENGAGING VIDEOS highlighting the life and work of award-winning scientists
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY and additional readings to guide students to deeper understanding and research
LINKS TO CITABLE LITERATURE help students expand their knowledge using primary sources of information