Cell Biology/Organelles

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Parts of the cell

Schematic of typical animal cell, showing subcellular components.

Organelles: (1) nucleolus (2) nucleus (3) ribosome (4) vesicle (5) rough endoplasmic reticulum (ER) (6) Golgi apparatus (7) Cytoskeleton (8) smooth ER (9) mitochondrion (10) vacuole (11) cytoplasm (12) lysosome (13) centrioles (14) vacuole

Nucleus[edit | edit source]

The nucleus contains genetic material or DNA in the form of chromatin, or, during mitosis or late interphase, chromosomes. All transcription and replication of genetic material take place within the nucleus, as does RNA processing. The nucleolus also resides within the nucleus and is responsible for RNA transcription and folding. Translation of RNA transcripts takes place outside of the nucleus.

Mitochondria[edit | edit source]

A mitochondrian is the organelle responsible for a cell's metabolism. It synthesizes ATP through a protein called ATP synthase. Mitochondria have a double membrane. An outer membrane and a folded inner membrane. The internal membrane, called the cristae is invaginated (folded or creased), to maximize surface area enabling it to hold more ATP syntheses. It is called as "the powerhouse of the cell" which is present in the eukaryotic organisms. It has matrix inside the inner membrane. It is in a rod shape structure.

Ribosomes[edit | edit source]

Ribosomes are responsible for protein synthesis. They are comprised of interacting protein and nucleic acid chains. Broadly, ribosomes are comprised of a large and a small subunit. The small subunit functions to attach to the mRNA strand and hold it in place during translation, while the large subunit holds and manufactures the growing polypeptide chain. The large subunit is further subdivided into the A (aminoacyl), P (peptidyl), and E (exit) binding sites.

Aminoacyl Binding Site The aminoacyl binding site binds a charged tRNA whose anticodon matches the codon in the A site.

Peptidyl Binding Site The peptidyl binding site contains the molecular machinery that transfers the bound polypeptide from the tRNA to the polypeptide chain, and holds the growing chain in place.

Exit Site The exit site is the terminal binding site for tRNA, where discharged tRNA's are released from the translation complex.

Endoplasmic Reticulum[edit | edit source]

The Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) acts as a transport from the nucleus and ribosomes to the Golgi apparatus. There are two types of endoplasmic reticulum:

Smooth ER[edit | edit source]

Smooth ER act as transport for various things, mainly the RNA from the nucleus to the ribosomes (RNA is a small piece of the DNA code specifically designed to tell the ribosomes what to make). Smooth ER appears smooth in texture, hence the name. Smooth ER plays an important role in lipid emulsification and digestion in the cell.

Rough ER[edit | edit source]

Rough ER are "rough" because of the ribosomes embedded in them. The rough ER takes the protein to the Golgi apparatus to be packaged into vacuoles

Golgi Complex(apparatus)[edit | edit source]

The Golgi Complex basically functions as a "packaging center" for the cell, attaching "address labels" (functional groups) to various cell products to direct them to their respective locations, and "packaging" the products into vacuoles to ensure delivery. Anatomically, the Golgi Complex consists of layers of lipid membrane stacked one on top of another, with a cis face and a trans face. As the molecular product being packaged moves through the complex, various enzymes act upon it to induce vacuole formation and functional group attachment.

Vacuole[edit | edit source]

Paramecium, with contractile vacuoles indicated using arrows.

Vacuoles are cellular storage places. Like the cell membrane, they are comprised of a lipid bilayer that functions as a selectively permeable barrier to regulate movement of materials into and out of the compartment. They can serve a variety of purposes, storing food, water, or waste products, or immune functions such as containing dangerous materials or maintaining turgor pressure (in plants). Vacuoles serve very different purposes in plant cells than they do in animal cells.

Plant Cells In plants, vacuoles comprise a significant portion of the cell's total volume and often contribute significantly to the function of a differentiated cell. For example, vacuoles in stomata cells contain large numbers of potassium ions, which can be pumped in or out to open or close the stomata.

Animal Cells In animal cells, vacuoles serve more subordinate roles, such as assisting in endo- and exocytosis or basic storage of food and waste.

Central Vacuole The central vacuole is found only in plant cells. It is filled with water and is pressurised, like a balloon. This forces all the other organelles within the cell out toward the cell wall. This pressure is called turgor pressure and is what gives plants their "crisp" and firm structure.

Peroxisomes[edit | edit source]

Peroxisomes perform a variety of metabolic processes and as a by-product, produce hydrogen peroxide. Peroxisomes use peroxase enzyme to break down this hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen.

Lysosomes[edit | edit source]

Lysosomes are vacuoles containing digestive and destructive membranes. In white blood cells, these are used to kill the bacteria or virus, while in tadpole-tail cells they kill the cell by separating the tail from the main body.

They also do much of the cellular digestion involved in apoptosis, the process of programmed cell death.