Friday, May 16, 2014

pluripotency vs. totipotency


Learning a bit of Latin helped me with Dino class (all those dino species names!).

Now I'm finding it helpful in Epigenetics.

Some cells' descendants have the possibility to turn into ANY kind of cell that organism has.  A fertilized egg, for example.  One cell, whose descendants can turn into all the cell types required to make an adult of its species.  This is totipotency.

I was confused; I thought that was what pluripotency was.

Thank goodness for Wikipedia's entry on cell potency -- Toti comes from the Latin totus which means "entirely."  Pluri comes from the Latin plurimus, meaning "very many."

And potens is Latin for "having power."

Now we know.  Pluripotent cells' descendants can become a lot of different kinds of cells, but not ALL the kinds of cells in that kind of critter.  "Very powerful," but not "all-powerful" like totipotent cells.

I do much better at remembering/understanding when I know what the words mean!

And -- I can see how, if you were going to be a scientist, learning Latin could save you a lot of time when you come to needing to know the meanings of a lot of words with Latin roots!


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