This is so perfect.
Biologists have served up the answer to the ultimate question of life, the Universe, and everything.
That answer, as you may know, is 42. And the question, in this case, is “how many million protein molecules are there in a single cell?”
Given that cells are the basic structural units of all living organisms we know of, the team at the University of Toronto in Canada really couldn’t have arrived at a more fitting number – but they didn’t set out to verify the fancies of Douglas Adams.
Proteins are the molecules doing the majority of heavy lifting within our cells, and their activity is what determines how well our cells function and communicate with each other.
On top of that, a cell’s proteome – the complete collection of proteins within the cell – is highly dynamic, constantly being affected by environmental changes and stresses.
Given the proteins’ fundamental importance, it’s no surprise that biologists need to know how many proteins there are, if they’re going to have a complete understanding of what really goes on inside a cell.