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Rabu, 30 Maret 2011

Cell Structures & Functions

Within cells there is an intricate network of organelles that all have unique functions. These organelles allow the cell to function properly. Arranged below according to location (nucleus, cytoplasm, and surface) is a description of common organelles. You may click on the organelle's name in the list below to directly reach the feature on that structure.

1.      Nucleus:  One or more per cell
Spherical shape
Denser than surrounding cytoplasm
- Usually in the form of chromatin
- Contains genetic information
- Composed of DNA
- Thicken for cellular division
- Set number per species (i.e. 23 pairs for human)
Nuclear membrane
- Surrounds nucleus
- Composed of two layers
- Numerous openings for nuclear traffic
- Spherical shape
- Visible when cell is not dividing
- Contains RNA for protein manufacture

2.      Cytoplasm: Collective term for cytosol and organelles contained within
    Colloidal suspension
    Cytosol mainly composed of water with free-floating molecules
    Viscosity constantly changes
- Paired cylindrical organelles near nucleus
- Composed of nine tubes, each with three tubules
- Involved in cellular division
- Lie at right angles to each other
- A plastid usually found in plant cells
- Contain green chlorophyll where photosynthesis takes place
- Composed of microtubules
- Supports cell and provides shape
- Aids movement of materials in and out of cells
Endoplasmic reticulum
- Tubular network fused to nuclear membrane
- Goes through cytoplasm onto cell membrane
- Stores, separates, and serves as cell's transport system
- Smooth type: lacks ribosomes
- Rough type (pictured): ribosomes embedded in surface
Golgi apparatus
- Protein 'packaging plant'
- A membrane structure found near nucleus
- Composed of numerous layers forming a sac
- Digestive 'plant' for proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates
- Transports undigested material to cell membrane for removal
- Vary in shape depending on process being carried out
- Cell breaks down if lysosome explodes
- Second largest organelle with unique genetic structure
- Double-layered outer membrane with inner folds called
- Energy-producing chemical reactions take place on cristae
- Controls level of water and other materials in cell
- Recycles and decomposes proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, and forms urea
- Each cell contains thousands
- Miniature 'protein factories'
- Composes 25% of cell's mass
- Stationary type: embedded in rough endoplasmic reticulum
Mobile type: injects proteins directly into cytoplasm
- Membrane-bound sacs for storage, digestion, and waste removal
- Contains water solution
- Contractile vacuoles for water removal (in unicellular organisms)

3.      Surface
Cell wall
- Most commonly found in plant cells
- Controls turgity
- Extracellular structure surrounding plasma membrane
- Primary cell wall: extremely elastic
- Secondary cell wall: forms around primary cell wall after growth is complete
Plasma membrane
- Outer membrane of cell that controls cellular traffic
- Contains proteins (left, gray) that span through the membrane and allow passage of materials
- Proteins are surrounded by a phospholipid bi-layer.

Cell Structure - The Complexity of the "Simple" Cell

Each person begins as a single cell -- a cell structure formed by the joining of the mother's egg and the father's sperm. That single cell contains the digital code to make thousands of other kinds of cells, from fat cells to bone cells -- from brain cells to lung cells. There are muscle cells, skin cells, vein cells, capillary cells and blood cells… Ultimately, from that one original cell, the human body will have something like 30 trillion cells conducting an orchestra of different functions.

In the first half of this century, scientists still assumed that the cell was a fairly simple blob of protoplasm. Without electron microscopes and other technology, the cell was treated as a "black box" that mysteriously performed its various functions -- an unobservable collection of "gelatin" molecules whose inner workings were unknown.

Through the marvels of 21st century technology, scientists now understand the following:
Although the tiniest bacterial cells are incredibly small, weighing less than 10-12 grams, each is in effect a veritable micro-miniaturized factory containing thousands of exquisitely designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery, made up altogether of one hundred thousand million atoms, far more complicated than any machinery built by man and absolutely without parallel in the non-living world.

Each microscopic cell is as functionally complex as a small city. When magnified 50,000 times through electron micrographs, we see that a cell is made up of multiple complex structures, each with a different role in the cell's operation. 

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