Excluding water, proteins are the most abundant type of molecule in the body. Protein is found within every single cell in the human body, and it is the structural component of your hair, muscle and skin.
Without ribosomes, a cell would not make proteins. Ribosomes and the proteins they create play a key role in homeostasis.
What Is Homeostasis?
All living things maintain internal conditions at optimal levels for survival. Cellular activities necessary for life can only occur in specific physical and chemical environments. Therefore, it is necessary for organisms to maintain these conditions.
Homeostasis refers to the steady state of internal equilibrium that is maintained by organisms. Homeostasis works by resisting abrupt changes to conditions that are ideal for life. Without homeostatic processes, the body would not be able to regulate itself.
How Does Homeostasis Occur?
Homeostatic control mechanisms involve three interdependent parts: a receptor, control center and an effector.
Receptors measure environmental conditions and relay the information to the control center. From there, a change is initiated in order to bring the condition back into equilibrium.
It may sound difficult to understand, but an intuitive example of homeostasis is sweating. When our bodies get too hot, receptors specialized in temperature sensing relay the information to the brain. From there, mechanisms kick in to cool down the body and return it to an ideal temperature.
This is an example of the whole organism maintaining homeostasis, but individual cells also maintain homeostasis. In the cell, proteins made by ribosomes take part in homeostatic processes. At all levels, ribosomes play a key role in the maintenance of homeostasis.
Ribosomes are microscopic machines found within all living cells. Found on the rough endoplasmic reticulum and in the cytoplasm, the main function of ribosomes is to synthesize proteins. Ribosomes are able to make proteins by “reading” information contained within messenger RNA (mRNA). The information contained within the mRNA contains the instructions for the ribosome to assemble the proteins bit-by-bit.
Proteins are made up of chains of organic molecules called amino acids. Ribosomes grab amino acids and link them together to create proteins in a process termed translation. During translation, every protein must be folded correctly in order to function properly.
Another of the ribosome's function is to mediate the proper folding of proteins.
How Is Homeostasis Dependent on Ribosomes?
The proteins created by the ribosomes are absolutely crucial for homeostasis to occur. Every internal and external cellular condition that is regulated by homeostasis is measured by a protein receptor. The main role of receptors is to receive and transduce signals.
By monitoring and responding to specific conditions, receptors help cells to sense when a limit is being breached. Receptors respond to environmental conditions and relay information to a control center. From the control center, the information is used to bring the condition back to equilibrium.
Examples of the Role of Proteins in Homeostasis
An example of homeostasis is the maintenance of body temperature. A steady temperature is maintained by protein receptors called thermoreceptors. Thermoreceptors measure changes in external and internal temperature.
If the temperature were to drop to dangerously low levels, thermoreceptors will send signals to the brain. This causes an effect on different organs, for example, an organism to shivering its skin in order to increase body temperature. Ribosomes create the thermoreceptors of the body.
Another example of a homeostatic condition maintained by proteins is blood-glucose levels. When our blood-sugar levels get too high, specialized cells in the body release a protein hormone called insulin.
To reduce blood-glucose levels, insulin acts on the liver, fat cells and muscle cells. Insulin causes the liver to release less glucose in the blood. Additionally, fat cells take up glucose and store it as fat. Muscle cells start using up more glucose for metabolic activity.
Without Ribosomes, Cells Would Not Produce Proteins
The regulation of temperature and blood glucose are merely two examples of how the proteins that ribosomes make help to maintain homeostasis. It is vital to understand that proteins are absolutely essential to nearly every single activity that occurs within living things.
Some of the functions of proteins include DNA replication, transporting molecules, responding to stimuli and catabolizing metabolic reactions. Nearly every homeostatic process is dependent on proteins in some way. Ribosomes maintain an equilibrium of conditions necessary for life.
About the Author
Lorin Martin is a writer, editor and science communicator. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience from Transylvania University.