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Apoptosis

Apoptosis (from Ancient Greek ἀπόπτωσις "falling off") is a process of programmed cell death that occurs in multicellular organisms. Biochemical events lead to characteristic cell changes (morphology) and death. These changes include blebbing, cell shrinkage, nuclear fragmentation, chromatin condensation, chromosomal DNA fragmentation, and global mRNA decay. Between 50 and 70 billion cells die each day due to apoptosis in the average human adult. For an average child between the ages of 8 and 14, approximately 20 to 30 billion cells die a day.

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Apoptosis

In the words of my biology teacher, apoptosis is "cell suicide" in which a cell's genes program the cell to die on its own. Apoptosis is a beneficial biological process used to prevent tumors from spreading and in human embryonic development. When apoptosis is not activated during embryonic development, the webbing between fingers and toes does not die. As a result, some people have webbed feet or hands.

Contributed by Grace Li-Haug

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