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Animal Cell

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Animal Cell De nition

Animal cells are the basic unit of life in organisms of the kingdom Animalia. They are e
cells, meaning that they have a true nucleus and specialized structures called organelle
carry out di erent functions. Plants, fungi, and protists all have eukaryotic cells, while
and archaea have simpler prokaryotic cells. Animal cells do not have cell walls or chlor
organelle that carries out photosynthesis.

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Functions of Animal Cells

Cells carry out all the processes of the body, including producing and storing energy, a
proteins, which are molecules that have roles in metabolism, DNA replication, and tran
of other molecules. Cells are highly specialized to carry out speci c tasks. For example
has cardiac muscle cells that beat in unison, and digestive tract cells have cilia, nger-li
projections that increase surface area for the absorption of nutrients during digestion
over 200 di erent types of cells in the human body. Red blood cells contain hemoglob
molecule that carries oxygen, and they have no nuclei; this is a specialization that allow
blood cell to carry as much oxygen within it as possible.

Multiple cells form tissues, which are organized groups of cells that carry out a certain
turn, groups of similar tissues form the body’s organs, such as the brain, lungs, and he
work together in organ systems, like the nervous system, digestive system, and circula
system. Organ systems vary depending on the species. For example, insects have open
systems, where blood is pumped directly into body cavities and surrounds their tissue
Vertebrates such as sh, mammals, and birds, on the other hand, have closed circulato
systems; their blood is enclosed within blood vessels where it travels to target tissues.
the “building blocks” of organ systems.
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Animal Cell Structure

The cell has a variety of di erent parts. It contains many di erent types of specialized
that carry out all of its functions. Not every animal cell has all types of organelles, but i
animal cells do contain most if not all of the following organelles.

This is an artist’s rendering of the parts of an animal cell.

Nucleus

The nucleus contains a cell’s deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), its genetic material. DNA con
instructions for making proteins, which controls all of the body’s activities. In the nucle
tightly winded around histones, which are proteins, to form structures called chromos
nucleus regulates which genes are expressed in the cell, which controls the cell’s activi
functioning and will be di erent depending on the type of cell. DNA is located in the nu
region of the nucleus, where ribosomes are made. The nucleus is surrounded by a nuc
envelope (also called nuclear membrane), which separates it from the rest of the cell.

The nucleus also regulates the growth and division of the cell. When the cell is prepari
during mitosis, the chromosomes in the nucleus duplicate and separate, and two daug
are formed. Organelles called centrosomes help organize DNA during cell division. Cel
have one nucleus each.

Ribosomes

Ribosomes are where proteins are synthesized. They are found within all cells, includin
cells. In the nucleus, a sequence of DNA that codes for a speci c protein is copied onto
complimentary messenger RNA (mRNA) chain. The mRNA chain travels to the ribosom
transfer RNA (tRNA), and its sequence is used to determine the correct placement of a
in a chain that makes up the protein. In animal cells, ribosomes can be found freely in
cytoplasm, or attached to membranes of the endoplasmic reticulum.

Endoplasmic Reticulum

The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is a network of membranous sacs called cisternae that
o from the outer nuclear membrane. It modi es and transports proteins that are ma
ribosomes. There are two kinds of endoplasmic reticulum, smooth and rough. Rough E
ribosomes attached. Smooth ER does not have ribosomes attached and has functions
lipids and steroid hormones and removing toxic substances.

Vesicles

Vesicles are small spheres of lipid bilayer, which also makes up the cell’s outer membr
are used for transporting molecules throughout the cell from one organelle to anothe
also involved in metabolism. Specialized vesicles called lysosomes contain enzymes th
large molecules like carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins into smaller ones so that they
by the cell.

Golgi Apparatus

The Golgi apparatus, also called the Golgi complex or Golgi body, is also made up of ci
the cisternae are not interconnected like those of the ER. The Golgi apparatus receives
from the ER and folds, sorts, and packages these proteins into vesicles.

Mitochondria

The process of cellular respiration occurs in the mitochondria. During this process, sug
fats are broken down and energy is released in the form of adenosine triphosphate (A
powers all cellular processes, and mitochondria produce a cell’s ATP, so mitochondria
commonly known as “the powerhouse of the cell”.

Cytosol

Cytosol is the liquid contained within cells. Cytosol and all the organelles within it, exce
nucleus, are collectively referred to as a cell’s cytoplasm. Cytosol is mostly made of wa
also contains ions like potassium, proteins, and small molecules. The pH is neutral, aro

Cytoskeleton

The cytoskeleton is a network of laments and tubules found throughout the cytoplas
cell. It has many functions; it gives the cell shape, provides strength, stabilizes tissues,
organelles within the cell, and has a role in cell signaling. There are three types of cyto
laments: micro laments, microtubules, and intermediate laments. Micro laments a
smallest, while microtubules are the biggest.

Cell Membrane
The cell membrane surrounds the entire cell. Animal cells only have a cell membrane;
have a cell wall as plant cells do. The cell membrane is a double layer made up of phos
Phospholipids are molecules with a phosphate group head attached to a glycerol and t 
acid tails. They spontaneously form double membranes in water due to the hydrophili
of the head and hydrophobic properties of the tails. The cell membrane is selectively p
meaning it only allows certain molecules through. Oxygen and carbon dioxide pass thr
easily, while larger or charged molecules must go through a special channel in the mem
This maintains homeostasis within the cell.

Related Biology Terms

Eukaryotic cell – A relatively large cell with a true nucleus and organelles.

Prokaryotic cell – A relatively small cell with no true nucleus and no organelles except for r

Organelle – A specialized structure within a cell that performs a speci c function.

Mitosis – The process by which a eukaryotic cell divides.

Quiz

1. Animal cells do not have ____________.


A. A cell wall
B. Chloroplasts
C. A cell membrane
D. Choices A and B

 Answer to Question #1

2. What is the function of a cell’s vesicles?


A. Producing proteins
B. Sorting, folding, and packaging proteins
C. Transporting molecules throughout the cell
D. Containing the cell’s genetic material

 Answer to Question #2

3. Which organelle has a role in making proteins?


A. Ribosome
B. Endoplasmic reticulum
C. Golgi apparatus
D. All of the above

 Answer to Question #3

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