Are vacuoles found in animal cells

Structure and function of the animal cell

This page briefly describes the structure of the animal cell and the functions of the individual cell components. More detailed descriptions can be found in the relevant specialist literature.

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Cell membrane
Cytoplasm
Cell nucleus
Organelles
- mitochondria
- lysosomes
- ribosomes
Endoplasmic reticulum
Golgi apparat
Vacuoles
Centrioles
Cell inclusions

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Cell membrane

The cell membrane forms the interface between a cell and its environment. It consists of a double layer of fat molecules (lipids) that is permeated by proteins. In addition to its protective function, the cell membrane controls the absorption and release of various substances.

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Cytoplasm

The cytoplasm, which is enclosed by the cell membrane, consists of around 90% water and contains various cell inclusions and organelles. The cell plasma is not static, but rather shows currents in the living cell.

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Cell nucleus

The nucleus of a cell consists of the nucleus envelope, the cell nucleus and the cell nucleus body. The genetic information of a cell is stored in the cell nucleus in the form of DNA. The cell nucleus thus has the control function for the processes within the cell.

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Organelles

Organelles are various structures in the cell plasma that are delimited by membranes. The organelles include the mitochondria, the lysosomes and the ribosomes.

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Mitochondria

Mitochondria are small, round or sausage-shaped organelles located in the cytoplasm, whose main function is to provide energy for the cell. Each mitochondrion is bounded by two membranes with a fluid-filled space between them. The inner membrane is folded into so-called cristae and therefore has a large surface. On the surface of the cristae there are enzymes which have their function in the production of energy. The number of mitochondria varies depending on the cell type and their energy requirements.

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Lysosomes

Lysosomes are very small, spherical, fluid-filled bodies in the cell's cytoplasm that are bounded by a single membrane. They contain the enzymes required to build up and break down cell components, which also have a function in the defense against bacteria, viruses and toxic substances.

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Ribosomes

Ribosomes are tiny organelles that are found in the cytoplasm, either free or bound to the endoplasmic reticulum, of all animal cells. They consist of RNA and proteins and serve as protein production sites in the cell.

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Endoplasmic reticulum

The endoplasmic reticulum is an extensive network of membrane-bounded channels that run through the cell plasma and continue in the cell nuclear envelope. Two types of endoplasmic reticulum are distinguished: the rough endoplasmic reticulum has a rough surface structure due to the presence of ribosomes, while the smooth endoplasmic reticulum has no ribosomes. The membrane of the endoplasmic reticulum serves as a channel for the transport of material in the cell, through it the cell contents are divided into different chambers. In addition, the endoplasmic reticulum provides surfaces for chemical reactions required by the cell.

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Golgi apparat

The Golgi apparatus located in the cell plasma consist of stacks of flattened, membrane-bound pockets with groups of vesicles at their edges. The Golgi apparatus produces cell membranes and carbohydrates.

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Vacuoles

Vacuoles are fluid-filled, membrane-enveloped bubbles in the cell plasma. The size and function of the vacuole, such as the storage of nutrients, vary depending on the type of cell.

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Centrioles

Most animal cells contain centrioles, small rod-shaped structures that lie in pairs in the cell plasma near the cell nuclear membrane. Centrioles consist of up to nine microtubule fissures arranged in a ring. During the onset of cell division, the centrioles move in pairs to opposite poles of the cell nucleus.

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Cell inclusions

Non-living chemical substances within the cell are called cell inclusions. They are not enclosed by any membrane and are either dissolved in the vacuoles of the cell or are found in undissolved form in the cell plasma. The most important cell inclusions include carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins, fats and oils, waste products, mineral crystals and gases.

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Questions, suggestions or corrections to [email protected] are welcome.

Matthias Giger, October 1999 (Update: 02/15/2002)