A main purpose of a cell is to organize. Cells hold a variety of pieces and each cell has a different set of functions. It is easier for an organism to grow and survive when cells are present. If you were only made of one cell, you would only be able to grow to a certain size. You don't find single cells that are as large as a cow. Also, if you were only one cell you couldn't have a nervous system, no muscles for movement, and using the internet would be out of the question. The trillions of cells in your body make your life possible.
Prokaryotes are organisms made up of cells that lack a cell nucleus or any membrane-encased organelles. This means the genetic material DNA in prokaryotes is not bound within a nucleus. Additionally, the DNA is less structured in prokaryotes than in eukaryotes. In prokaryotes, DNA is a single loop. In Eukaryotes, DNA is organized into chromosomes. Most prokaryotes are made up of just a single cell (unicellular) but there are a few that are made of collections of cells (multicellular). Scientists have divided the prokaryotes into two groups, the Bacteria and the Archaea.
Eukaryotes are organisms made up of cells that possess a membrane-bound nucleus (that holds genetic material) as well as membrane-bound organelles. Genetic material in eukaryotes is contained within a nucleus within the cell and DNA is organized into chromosomes. Eukaryotic organisms may be multicellular or single-celled organisms. All animals are eukaryotes. Other eukaryotes include plants, fungi, and protists.
Organelles and Their Functions
The NUCLEUS (“mayor of city hall”)
The nucleus houses the majority of genetic material of a cell. The nucleus is the “brain” of the cell and controls all activity within the cell. Using DNA as a blueprint
(like the blueprints of a city) the nucleus directs the production of proteins. You will learn about this process in the DNA Transcription and Translation lab.
=RIBOSOMES (“lumber or brick yard”)
The ribosomes carry out manual labor in the form of protein synthesis for the nucleus. They bring together all the raw ingredients such as RNA (copies of the original DNA blueprints) and amino acids to assemble proteins. The proteins created are essential to cell and organismal function. Think of proteins as machinery for cell functions much like electricity and plumbing are essential in a real city. For example, enzymes are a type of protein without which life could not exist.
The ENDOPLASMIC RETICULUM (“highways and road systems”)
There are two types of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) – Smooth ER and Rough ER. This extensive network makes up approximately one half of all membranous tissue of the cell and is the site of membrane and protein synthesis. The ER system is much like a road system along which industry can be found. Goods are manufactured and shipped to needed areas via the road system. Rough ER is named for the presence of ribosomes along its membrane and is the source of proteins. Smooth ER lacks ribosomes and is responsible for lipid synthesis and processes a variety of metabolic processes such as drug detoxification.
CELL MEMBRANE (“City Border”) and CELL WALL (“City Wall”)
Cell membranes are found in animal cells whereas cell walls are found in plant cells. Cell walls and membranes have similar functions. Like a city perimeter, cell membranes surround the cell and have the ability to regulate entrance and exit of substances, thereby maintaining internal balance. These membranes also protect the inner cell from outside forces. Cell walls, as the city analogy implies, are much stronger than cell membranes and protect