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04 Structure to Function

04 Structure to Function

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Published by Manan Bhatt

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Published by: Manan Bhatt on Nov 23, 2008
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1
B io F actsheet
September 1997Number 4
Structure to function in eukaryotic cells
The cell surface membrane and the membranes which form organelles ineukaryotic cells all have the same basic structure, known as the
fluidmosaic model
. Such membranes provide control of the entry and exit of substances into cells and organelles and such control is a result of thephospholipid bilayer and membrane proteins.In eukaryotic cells, such membranes divide the cytoplasm into multiplecompartments (organelles). Organelles allow different functions to occurefficiently and simultaneously in different parts of the cell. For example,the outer double membrane of the mitochondrion separates out thosereactions which occur in mitochondria from those in the general cytoplasm.Furthermore, the internal membranes of the mitochondria allow the enzymicreactions of the Kreb’s cycle to be kept quite separate from the electrontransfer chain reactions (ETC). This is essential since both sets of reactionshave different enzymes, hence different pH optima. By splitting up thecytoplasm of the mitochondria, the membranes which form the crista allowenzymes and substrates to be concentrated and pH to be optimised.Membranes can therefore be said to
compartmentalise
the interior of eukaryotic cells.The relationship between structure and function can be described in termsof the whole cell or in terms of the individual organelles of the eukaryoticcell.Table 1 describes the structure and function of a motor neuron cell which iscommonly featured in examination questions. The structure and functionof eukaryotic organelles is described overleaf.
CellStructureFunction
Motor NeuronLong axonsAxon contains axoplasmFor rapid transmission of nerve impulse. Synapses, wheretwo nerves join, is the slowest part of transmission, sothe longer the axon, the fewer the synapses and the fasterthe impulses transmitted.Allows transport between cell body and axonNodes of Ranvier betweenSchwann cellsHigh phospholipid content inmembrane of Schwann cellAllows Na
+
/K
+
pump to operate which sets up restingpotential. Schwann cells of myelin sheath speed up theimpulse because they increase the surface area fortransmission of current.Provides electrical insulation.Synaptic knob at end of dendrite contains:(i)many mitochondria(ii)numerous vesiclesTo provide ATP for active refilling of synaptic vesicles.For modification and release of chemical transmittersacross the synapse.Many dendritesTo allow communication with other neurons.Cell body contains:(i)Nucleus(ii)dense groups of ribosomesand endoplasmic reticulumcalled Nissl granulesProvides the genetic code for the production of neurotransmitter substances, e.g. acetylcholine andenzymes, eg. cholinesterase.For production and transport of proteins andneurotransmitters.axon may be a metre or more in lengthnodes of Ranvieraxondirectionof nerveimpulse
Table 1.
Exam Hint 
- Structure to function questions are very commonly set on all A level Biology syllabuses. They are one of the syllabus areas where all candidates should be capable of gaining the highest marks.Once the functions of organelles have been memorised, candidates should become confident at interpreting the function of unknown cells.
Nisslgranulesnucleusdendrites
 
Structure to function in eukaryotic cells
Bio Factsheet
2
Structure and Function of OrganellesStructureFunction
Double nuclear envelopeTo enclose and protect DNA (normally visible aschromatin granules).Nuclear pores.Normally, the nuclear pores areplugged by an RNA/proteincomplex.Allow entry of substances such as nucleotides for DNAreplication and exit of molecules such as mRNA duringprotein synthesis.Small molecules pass through the pores by diffusion,whereas large molecules such as partly completedribosomes pass through actively.Nucleoplasm containschromatin granules made of DNA and associated proteins.Nucleoplasm also containsnucleoliIt is these which, during cell division, condense to formchromosomes.Produces partly-completed ribosomes, coenzymes,nucleotides, proteins (including enzymes for nucleic acidsynthesis) and RNA molecules.The outer membrane of thenuclear envelope is continuouswith the rough endoplasmicreticulum membranes.This makes the perinuclear space continuous with thelumen of the endoplasmic reticulum, thus allowing easytransport of substances.MitochondrionDouble membraneIsolates reactions of the Krebs cycle and electrontransfer chain from the general cytoplasm. Suchcompartmentalisation allows high concentrations of enzymes and substrates to be maintained whichincreases the rate of respiratory reactions.Whereas the outer membrane is permeable to smallmolecules such as sugars, salts and nucleotides, the innermembrane is selectively permeable. This enables themitochondrion to control the chemical composition of thematrix, thus optimising conditions for enzyme activity.The inner membrane isspanned by proteins (porins)Allows entry of pyrovic acid and oxygen and the exit of ATP and carbon dioxide.The inner membrane is foldedto form cristaeGreatly increases the surface area for the attachment of enzymes and co-enzymes involved in the electron transferchain and allows the sequential attachment of electroncarriers in the ETC.nuclearporenucleolusnucleoplasmcontainingchromatinnuclearenvelopeloop of DNAmatrixfluid-filledspaceinnermembraneoutermembraneribosomes(i)The matrix contains 70Sribosomes(ii)DNA(iii)enzymes eg. decarboxylaseFor protein manufacture eg. enzymes.codes for proteins.eg. in Kreb's cycleNucleuscrista
 
RibosomeRibosomes provide:(i)Binding sites for the binding of mRNA whichallows translation of the DNA code.(ii)Two sites for the binding of 2 tRNA molecules.(iii)The enzymes necessary for (i) and (ii).Ribosomes recognise the initiation and termination codonson mRNA.Ribosomes are capable of moving along the mRNA strand.This allows decoding of the mRNA and synthesis of apolypeptide chain.largesubunitsmallsubunitRibosomes consist of two sub-units both made of rRNA andprotein. The rRNA part of theribosome is formed in thenucleus and moves out of thenucleus via the pores. Theprotein part is then assembledin the cytoplasm. Ribosomesmay occur in dense clusters inthe cytoplasm where they areknown as polysomes or mayoccur on the membranes of theendoplasmic reticulum.
Structure to function in eukaryotic cells
Bio Factsheet
3
CellStructureFunction
Endoplasmic ReticulumEndoplasmic reticulum is asystem of hollow tubes andsacs.Rough endoplasmic reticulum(rer) is covered with ribosomesand consists of aninterconnected system of flattened sacs,Smooth endoplasmic reticulum(ser) - which lacks ribosomes -is a system of interconnectedtubules.Allows transport of substances within the cell.The ribosomes on the rough endoplasmic reticulum maysynthesise proteins which can then be transported throughthe cell in the cavities of the endoplasmic reticulum. Thepercentage of rer is high in cells which produce proteins forexport e.g. - digestive enzymes, growth factors and serumproteins. The smooth endoplasmic reticulum can give riseto Golgi bodies and this allows the packaging of newlyproduced proteins in Golgi vesicles which can then moveto the cell surface membrane for secretion.The smooth endoplasmic reticulum is the site of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism eg. it synthesisestriglycerides, cholesterol and phospholipids which becomepart of the cell surface membrane and is also involved in themodification of substances such as steroid hormones whichwill then be secreted.The percentage of smooth endoplasmic reticulum is highin cells which are involved in the metabolism of lipidsand drugs.Golgi bodyAllows internal transport. Vesicles contain materials to besecreted. Vesicles protect the molecules as they aretransported across the cytoplasm to the cell surfacemembrane.Proteins from the rer are modified before secretion. Forexample, carbohydrates may be added to proteins to formglycoproteins such as mucus which can then be enclosed invesicles for secretion out of the cell. Golgi vesicles mayalso fuse with primary lysosomes which will then formsecondary lysosomes capable of digesting food particles.Golgi body consists of flattened cisternae (membranebound cavities) which may bestacked on top of each otherand which may invaginate andfuse to form vesiclesThe Golgi body is connected tothe rer

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