What Would We Expect to Find Inside of Our Cells

Immersed in and bathed by the intracellular fluid are small compartments called organelles. The word organelle means "little organ." Two of the more recognizable organelles are the nucleus and mitochondria. Other organelles include endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, lysosomes, and peroxisomes (see Figure 2.1). The various organelles are little operation centers within cells. Each type of organelle performs a different and specialized job (Table 2.1). Each organelle has its own membrane with many similarities to the plasma membrane. Therefore, as we discuss the nature of the plasma membrane below you can keep in mind that some of these features also pertain to organelle membranes as well.

Table 2.1 Overview of Organelle Function


Function and Specialized Features

Nucleus Houses almost all of our DNA

Mitochondria Is the site of most ATP manufacturing in cells; houses some DNA Lysosomes Involved in breaking down unnecessary or foreign substances;

contains acidic environment and digestive enzymes Endoplasmic Involved in making proteins and lipid substances destined to be reticulum exported from cell

Peroxisomes Like lysosomes but with different assortment of enzymes; site of detoxification

Golgi The final packaging site for substances ready to be exported apparatus from a cell

Cells contain special compartments called organelles, which have special functions to support total cell function.

Also within the intracellular fluid of certain cells we would expect to find some energy reserves in the form of fat droplets and glycogen (carbohydrate) (see Figure 2.1). The amount of glycogen and fat will vary depending on the type of cell. Another important component of cells is ribosomes. Ribosomes are the actual site where proteins are constructed.

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