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Unicellular Organisms


Cell Cell Nucleus There are two types of cells: prokaryotic and eukaryotic. Prokaryotic cells have no nucleus and form unicellular organisms such as bacteria. The cells in protista, fungi, plants and animals are eukaryotic cells, which have a nucleus.

In a eukaryotic cell, the plasma membrane is a lipid bilayer that separates the materials inside the cell from the environment surrounding it.

The outer surface of the membrane contains structures that allow cells to communicate with each other.

Figure 11-30a Eukaryotic Cell
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Figure 11-30b Cell Nucleus
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The nucleus contains the genes that control DNA replication and protein synthesis of the cell (Figure 11-30b). The cytoplasm consists of all the materials between the nucleus and the plasma membrane. The cytosol, which is the fluid part of the cytoplasm, is an aqueous solution of electrolytes and enzymes that catalyze many the cell's chemical reactions.

Within the cells are specialized structure called organelles that carry out specific functions in the cell. The cell structure is shown in Figure 11-30a, the functions of the cell are shown in Table 11-02 below.

Cytosketeton Network of protein filaments Structural support; cell movement No
Flagella(cilia, microvilli) Cellular extensions Motility or moving fluids over surfaces Yes
Centrioles Hollow microtubules Moving chromosomes during cell division No
Plasma membrane Lipid bilayer in which proteins are embedded Regulates what passes into and out of cell; cell-to-cell communication Yes
Endoplasmic reticulum Network of internal membranes; forms compartments and vesicles Rough type processes proteins for secretion and synthesizes phospholipids; smooth type synthesize fats and steroids No
Nucleus Structure bounded by double membrane; contains chromosomes Control center of cell; directs protein synthesis and cell reproduction No
Golgi complex Stacks of flattened vesicles Modifies and packages proteins for export from cell; forms secretory vesicles No
Lysosomes Vesicles derived from Golgi complex that contain hydrolytic digestive enzymes Digest worn-out mitochondria and cell debris; play role in cell death No
Autophagy Vesicles to collect debris within the cell Malfunction causes accumulation of cell damage leading to diseases and aging (see Malfunction of Autophagy) No
Mitochondria Bacteria-like elements with inner membrane Power plant of the cell; site of oxidative metabolism; synthesis of ATP No
Chromosomes Long threads of DNA that form a complex with protein Contain hereditary information Yes
Nucleolus Site of rRNA synthesis Assembles ribosomes No
Ribosomes Small, complex assemblies of protein, often bound to ER Site of protein synthesis Yes

Table 11-02 Cell Organization

PKC - Absence or presence in prokaryotic cells.
See more about the internal detail of the cell in : "Inner World of the Cell".

Chromosome The nucleus is of primary importance in the cell because it is the control center that oversees the metabolic functioning of the cell and ultimately determines the cell's characteristics. Within the nucleus, there are masses of threads called chromatin, which is indistinct in the non-dividing cell, but it condenses to chromosomes at the time of cell division. Figure 11-31 shows the packed chromosome unwinding to a DNA strand. The nucleolus is the specialized part of chromatin in which the ribosomal RNA (rRNA), is produced (Figure 11-30b).

The telomeres lie at the tips of the chromosome. They have hundreds to thousands of repeats of a specific 6-nucleotide DNA sequence. The telomeres lose 50 to 200 of these nucleotides at each mitosis; gradually shortening the chromosome. After about 50 divisions, a critical amount of telomere DNA is lost, which somehow signals the cell to stop mitosis. The cell may remain alive for a while but is unable to divide further. This is the cellular clock, which pre-determines the life span of the cell.

Figure 11-31 Chromosome, DNA

See "DNA orgainization".

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