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Eukaryotic Animal Cell by Mind Map: Eukaryotic Animal Cell
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Eukaryotic Animal Cell

Nucleus: The nucleus is the most obvious organelle in any eukaryotic cell. It is enclosed in a nuclear membrane and communicates with the surrounding cytosol via numerous nuclear pores. Within the nucleus is the DNA responsible for providing the cell with its unique characteristics. The DNA is similar in every cell of the body, but depending on the specific cell type, some genes may be turned on or off - that's why a liver cell is different from a muscle cell, and a muscle cell is different from a fat cell. When a cell is dividing, the nuclear chromatin (DNA and surrounding protein) condenses into chromosomes that are easily seen by microscopy.

Nucleolus: The prominent structure in the nucleus is the nucleolus. The nucleolus produces ribosomes, which move out of the nucleus and take positions on the rough endoplasmic reticulum where they are critical in protein synthesis.

Cytosol: The cytosol is the "soup" within which all the other cell organelles reside and where most of the cellular metabolism occurs. Though mostly water, the cytosol is full of proteins that control cell metabolism including signal transduction pathways, glycolysis, intracellular receptors, and transcription factors.

Cytoplasm:This is a collective term for the cytosol plus the organelles suspended within the cytosol.

Centrosomes: The centrosome, or MICROTUBULE ORGANIZING CENTER (MTOC), is an area in the cell where microtubules are produced. Plant and animal cell centrosomes play similar roles in cell division, and both include collections of microtubules, but the plant cell centrosome is simpler and does not have centrioles. During animal cell division, the centrioles replicate (make new copies) and the centrosome divides. The result is two centrosomes, each with its own pair of centrioles. The two centrosomes move to opposite ends of the nucleus, and from each centrosome, microtubules grow into a "spindle" which is responsible for separating replicated chromosomes into the two daughter cells.

Centrioles: Each centriole is a ring of nine groups of fused microtubules. There are three microtubules in each group. Microtubules (and centrioles) are part of the cytoskeleton. In the complete animal cell centrosome, the two centrioles are arranged such that one is perpendicular to the other.

Cytoskeleton: As its name implies, the cytoskeleton helps to maintain cell shape. But the primary importance of the cytoskeleton is in cell motility. The internal movement of cell organelles, as well as cell locomotion and muscle fiber contraction could not take place without the cytoskeleton.

Actin filaments (microfilaments): Microfilaments are fine, thread-like protein fibers, 3-6 nm in diameter. They are composed predominantly of a contractile protein called actin, which is the most abundant cellular protein. Microfilaments' association with the protein myosin is responsible for muscle contraction. Microfilaments can also carry out cellular movements including gliding, contraction, and cytokinesis.

Microtubules: Microtubules are cylindrical tubes, 20-25 nm in diameter. They are composed of subunits of the protein tubulin--these subunits are termed alpha and beta. Microtubules act as a scaffold to determine cell shape, and provide a set of "tracks" for cell organelles and vesicles to move on. Microtubules also form the spindle fibers for separating chromosomes during mitosis. When arranged in geometric patterns inside flagella and cilia, they are used for locomotion.

Intermediate Filaments: Intermediate filaments are about 10 nm diameter and provide tensile strength for the cell.

Golgi Apparatus: The Golgi apparatus is a membrane-bound structure with a single membrane. It is actually a stack of membrane-bound vesicles that are important in packaging macromolecules for transport elsewhere in the cell. The stack of larger vesicles is surrounded by numerous smaller vesicles containing those packaged macromolecules. The enzymatic or hormonal contents of lysosomes, peroxisomes and secretory vesicles are packaged in membrane-bound vesicles at the periphery of the Golgi apparatus.

Secretory Vesicle: Cell secretions - e.g. hormones, neurotransmitters - are packaged in secretory vesicles at the Golgi apparatus. The secretory vesicles are then transported to the cell surface for release.

Lysosomes: Lysosomes contain hydrolytic enzymes necessary for intracellular digestion. They are common in animal cells, but rare in plant cells. Hydrolytic enzymes of plant cells are more often found in the vacuole.

Peroxisomes: Peroxisomes are membrane-bound packets of oxidative enzymes. In animal cells, peroxisomes protect the cell from its own production of toxic hydrogen peroxide. As an example, white blood cells produce hydrogen peroxide to kill bacteria. The oxidative enzymes in peroxisomes break down the hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen.

Cell membrane: Every cell is enclosed in a membrane, a double layer of phospholipids (lipid bilayer). The exposed heads of the bilayer are "hydrophilic" (water loving), meaning that they are compatible with water both within the cytosol and outside of the cell. However, the hidden tails of the phosopholipids are "hydrophobic" (water fearing), so the cell membrane acts as a protective barrier to the uncontrolled flow of water. The membrane is made more complex by the presence of numerous proteins that are crucial to cell activity. These proteins include receptors for odors, tastes and hormones, as well as pores responsible for the controlled entry and exit of ions like sodium (Na+) potassium (K+), calcium (Ca++) and chloride (Cl-).

Mitochondria: Mitochondria provide the energy a cell needs to move, divide, produce secretory products, contract - in short, they are the power centers of the cell. They are about the size of bacteria but may have different shapes depending on the cell type. Mitochondria are membrane-bound organelles, and like the nucleus have a double membrane. The outer membrane is fairly smooth. But the inner membrane is highly convoluted, forming folds (cristae) as seen in the cross-section, above. The cristae greatly increase the inner membrane's surface area. It is on these cristae that food (sugar) is combined with oxygen to produce ATP - the primary energy source for the cell.

Vacuole: A vacuole is a membrane-bound sac that plays roles in intracellular digestion and the release of cellular waste products. In animal cells, vacuoles are generally small.

Smooth endoplasmic reticulum: Throughout the eukaryotic cell, especially those responsible for the production of hormones and other secretory products, is a vast network of membrane-bound vesicles and tubules called the endoplasmic reticulum, or ER for short. The ER is a continuation of the outer nuclear membrane and its varied functions suggest the complexity of the eukaryotic cell. The smooth endoplasmic reticulum is so named because it appears smooth by electron microscopy. Smooth ER plays different functions depending on the specific cell type including lipid and steroid hormone synthesis, breakdown of lipid-soluble toxins in liver cells, and control of calcium release in muscle cell contraction.

Rough endoplasmic reticulum: Rough endoplasmic reticulum appears "pebbled" by electron microscopy due to the presence of numerous ribosomes on its surface. Proteins synthesized on these ribosomes collect in the endoplasmic reticulum for transport throughout the cell.

Ribosomes: Ribosomes are packets of RNA and protein that play a crucial role in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. They are the site of protein synthesis. Each ribosome comprises two parts, a large subunit and a small subunit. Messenger RNA from the cell nucleus is moved systematically along the ribosome where transfer RNA adds individual amino acid molecules to the lengthening protein chain.