Endomembrane Project Sarah Lighter


A nucleus by definition is a dense organelle present in most eukaryotic cells, typically a single rounded structure bounded by a double membrane, containing the genetic material (DNA).

Structure (what its made of)

  • contains a nuclear envelope, chromatin, nucleolus, nuclear pores, nucleoplasm, and ribosomes
  • nuclear envelope is made of an outer membrane and an inner membrane; it encases the entire organelle, isolating its contents from the rest of the cell
  • chromatin efficiently packages DNA into a small volume to fit into the nucleus of a cell and protects the DNA structure and sequence
  • nucleolus is a large structure that mainly makes ribosomes and RNA
  • nuclear pores are small channels through the nuclear envelope that allow for smaller molecules to pass through such as messenger RNA molecules, but keep larger DNA molecules inside the nucleus
  • nucleoplasm is the liquid that fills the inside of the nucleus
  • ribosomes are made inside the nucleolus and then sent outside the nucleus to make proteins

function (the specific role in a cell)

  • site for genetic transcription
  • main function of the nucleus is to govern gene expression and facilitate DNA replication during the cell cycle (but also has more specific functions as listed below)
  • RNA- plays an important role in making proteins called protein synthesis or translation
  • DNA replication- the nucleus can make exact copies of its DNA
  • transcription- the nucleus makes RNA which can be used to carry messages and copies of DNA instructions
  • translation- the RNA is used to configure amino acids into special proteins for use in the cell
  • often referred to as the "control center" or the "brain" of the cell

Organisms that have a nucleus

  • found in animals, plants, protists, and fungi; not found in bacteria (prokaryotic, pro rhymes with no)
  • prolific in multinucleate cells; examples of multinucleate cells include osteoclasts, coenocytes, and syncytia
  • cell with multiple nuclei are uncommon

disease associated with the nucleus

  • progeria- caused by a mutation in the gene called LMNA
  • the LMNA gene produces the Lamin A protein, which is the structural scaffolding that holds the nucleus of a cell together
  • symptoms typically show by age 2 and people affected by this disease usually die by age 14
  • no cure for progeria but there is medication that blocks most progerin proteins

Interesting Facts

  • the nucleus was the first of the cell organelles to be discovered by scientists
  • usually takes up about 10 percent of the cell's volume
  • each human cell contains around 6 feet of DNA which is tightly packed, but very organized with proteins (this is crazy considering how small cells are!)
  • the nuclear envelope breaks down during cell division, but reforms after the two cells separate
close up image showing the anatomy of the nucleus
the size of a nucleus in comparison to an entire cell


A ribosome by definition is a minute particle consisting of RNA and associated proteins, found in large numbers in the cytoplasm of living cells.

Structure (what they're made of/the shape)

  • ribosomes are composed of both RNA and proteins
  • typically ribosomes are composed of two subunits: a large subunit and a small subunit
  • found floating within the cell's cytoplasm or attached to the endoplasmic reticulum
  • the location of the ribosomes in a cell determines what kind of protein it makes

Function (the specific role in a cell)

  • they assemble amino acids to form specific proteins, proteins are essential to carry out cellular activities
  • the process of production of proteins, the deoxyribonucleic acid produces mRNA by the process of DNA transcription
  • the genetic message from the mRNA is translated into proteins during DNA translation
  • the sequences of protein assembly during protein synthesis are specified in the mRNA
  • the mRNA is synthesized in the nucleus and is transported to the cytoplasm for further process of protein synthesis
  • in the cytoplasm, the two subunits of ribosomes are bound around the polymers of mRNA; proteins are then synthesized with the help of transfer RNA
  • the proteins that are synthesized by the ribosomes present in the cytoplasm are used in the cytoplasm itself
  • the proteins produced by the bound ribosomes are transported outside the cell

Organisms that have ribosomes

  • both eukaryotes and prokaryotes require protein to function and carry out daily activities making ribosomes extremely important for the survival of living things
  • found in animals, plants, protists, bacteria, and fungi
  • ribosomes are prolific in all kinds of organisms since they're found in all cell types

diseases associated with ribosomes

  • ribosomopathies - the dysfunction of the ribosomes will cause a collection of disorders in which genetic abnormalities cause impaired ribosome biogenesis and function, resulting in specific clinical phenotypes
  • abnormal ribosome biogenesis is linked to several human genetic diseases, particularly inherited bone marrow failure diseases, which are characterized by a predisposition to cancer and a reduced number of blood cells
  • t Diamond–Blackfan anemia (DBA), Dyskeratosis congenita (DKCX) and Treacher Collins syndrome (TCS) are all examples of this
  • specifically, TCS is a condition that affects the development of bones and other tissues of the face
  • researchers speculate that a decrease in the amount of rRNA may trigger the self-destruction (apoptosis) of certain cells involved in the development of facial bones and tissues

Interesting facts

  • ribosomes are different from most organelles in that they are not surrounded by a protective membrane
  • the ribosome was discovered in 1974 by Albert Claude, Christian de Duve, and George Emil Palade who won the Nobel Prize for their discovery
  • The "rib" in ribosome comes from ribonucleic acid (RNA)
close up image of a ribosome
this depicts a visual difference between free ribosomes and ribosomes attached to rough ER while also showing how small ribosomes are in comparison to a cell
structure of a ribosome

Rough Endoplasmic Reticulum (rough ER)

The Rough er is a membrane-bound structure that is a part of every eukaryotic cell.This organelle plays a large role in the synthesis of large, complex proteins and amino acids

structure (what its made of)

  • comprised of many folded layers of membrane which ensures a high surface area for protein and lipid production
  • membrane of rough ER is lined with ribosomes, which give the organelle a rough appearance (gives the organelle its name)

Function (The specific role in the cell)

  • important in the synthesis and packaging of proteins
  • the process of protein synthesis starts when mRNA moves from the nucleus to a ribosome on the surface of the RER
  • as the ribosome builds the amino acid chain, the chain is pushed into the cisternal space of the RER
  • when the proteins are complete, they collect and the RER pinches off a vesicle
  • that vesicle can move to the cell membrane or the Golgi apparatus

organisms that have rough endoplasmic reticulum

  • found in the cells of eukaryotic organisms (plants, animals, fungi, and protists); not found in bateria
  • occurs in almost every type of eukaryotic cell except red blood cells and sperm cells
  • especially prominent in certain kinds of cells like hepatocytes where active protein synthesis occurs

AN interesting fact

  • the rough ER is studded with MILLIONS of membrane bound ribosomes
close up image of rough ER where you can see the ribosomes that create the "rough" surface
this shows the rough ER's location, the purple and blue structure surrounding the nucleus

Smooth Endoplasmic Reticulum (smooth ER)

smooth er is defined as a network of tubular membranes within the cytoplasm of the cell with a smooth surface

Structure (what its made of)

  • consists of a long network of a folded, tube-like structure
  • the interior of the smooth ER is called the lumen, which is enclosed by a phospholipid membrane
  • smooth and rough ER are often attached to each other
  • can be distinguished by shape (smooth ER is tubular, while rough ER is flatter)
  • the absence of ribosomes on the surface

Function ( the specific role in the cell)

  • a manufacturing organelle, making and distributing the molecules that a particular type of cell needs
  • important in the creation and storage of lipids and steroids
  • acts as a storage organelle

Organisms that have smooth ER

  • abundant in liver cell in animals, where it plays a specific role that uses enzymes to help the liver with detoxification (break down toxic compounds)

Diseases associated with Both types of er

  • a malfunction of the ER stress response caused by aging, genetic mutations, or environmental factors
  • can result in various diseases such as diabetes, inflammation, and neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and bipolar disorder
the smooth ER is the orange structure, typically located outside of the nucleus and rough ER

Golgi Apparatus

golgi apparatus is defined as a complex of vesicles and folded membranes within the cytoplasm of most eukaryotic cells, involved in secretion and intracellular transport.

structure (what its made of)

  • has a characteristic structure composed of five to eight flattened, disk-shaped, membrane-defined cisternae (sacs) arranged in a stack

Function (the specific role in the cell)

  • process and bundle macromolecules like proteins and lipids as they are synthesized within the cell
  • compared to a post office inside the cell since one major function is to modify, sort, and package proteins to be secreted
  • the transport of lipids throughout the cell and the creation of lysosomes
  • works closely with the rough ER

Organisms that have a golgi apparatus

  • present in most eukaryotic cells (found specifically in plant and animal cells)
  • most abundant specifically in goblet cells where they secrete mucus and mucus contains glycoproteins that are modified in Golgi apparatus

Disease associated with golgi apparatus

  • achondrogenesis- a rare and severe group of genetic disorders that results in a short trunk, small limbs, and a narrow chest
  • type 1A is caused by a defect in the microtubules of the golgi apparatus
  • when a person’s body does not produce enough growth hormone and as a result, cartilage and bone do not develop properly, causing abnormalities in the skeletal system
the baby’s skull bone is very soft and the limbs are very short making it hard for the baby to breathe

interesting facts

  • as high a number as sixty cisternae in the golgi apparatus have been observed by scientists
  • was first identified in 1897 by Camillo Golgi and was named after the physicist the following year
close up view of the structure of the golgi apparatus


mitochondria are defined as an organelle found in large numbers in most cells, in which the biochemical processes of respiration and energy production occur.

Structure (What its made of)

  • small organelles floating free throughout the cell
  • has a double membrane, the inner layer being folded inward to form layers (cristae)
  • they are special because they have their own ribosomes and DNA floating in their matrix
  • also contains the structures called granules which may control concentrations of ions (but cell biologists are still exploring the activity of granules)

Function (the specific role in the cell)

  • known as the powerhouses of the cell; keep the cell full of energy
  • takes in nutrients, breaks them down, and creates energy rich molecules for the cell
  • use cellular respiration
  • the reactions involved in ATP production are known as the citric acid cycle

organisms that have mitochondria

  • found in both plant and animal cells
  • most abundant in fat and muscle cells
  • fat cells because mitochondria produce energy that they store
  • muscle cells because having many mitochondria allows them to respond quickly to the need for doing work

Disease associated with mitochondria

  • mitochondrial diseases
  • when the mitochondria are unable to completely burn food and oxygen to generate energy, which is essential for normal cell function
  • primarily affects children, often inherited
  • cause the most damage to cells of the brain, heart, liver, skeletal muscles, kidney and the endocrine and respiratory systems
  • symptoms might include poor growth, developmental delays, and muscle weakness
  • there's no cure, but physical therapy and medications can manage symptoms
in depth explanation of the symptoms for mitochondrial disease

Interesting facts

  • can quickly change shape and move around the cell when needed
  • can reproduce by growing larger and then dividing, when the cell needs more energy
  • some cells have several thousand mitochondria while others have none
zoomed in image of the structure of mitochondria; it is usually easy to recognize in a picture of an entire cell due to the pattern that the cristae and matrix create.


Chloroplast are defined as a plastid that contains chlorophyll and in which photosynthesis takes place.

structure (what its made of)

  • contains an outer and inner membrane, stroma, and granum (stack of thylakoids)
  • they vary from spheroid, filamentous saucer-shaped, discoid or ovoid shaped
  • light reactions takes place on the membranes of the thylakoids
  • the dark reactions also known as the Calvin cycle takes place in the stroma of chloroplast

Function (the specific role in the cell)

  • are responsible for photosynthesis
  • which is the process by which sunlight is absorbed and converted into fixed chemical energy in the form of simple sugars synthesized from carbon dioxide and water
  • in plants all the cells participate in plant immune response as they lack specialized immune cells; the chloroplasts with the nucleus and cell membrane and ER are the key organelles of pathogen defense

Organisms that have chloroplast

  • only found in plant and algae cells
  • though there are some bacteria relatives that can do photosynthesis, they don't have chloroplasts

interesting facts

  • origin of chloroplasts was first suggested by the Russian biologist Konstantin Mereschkowski in 1905 (crazy that this was only a little over a hundred years ago)


a flagella is defined as a slender threadlike structure, especially a microscopic whiplike appendage that enables many protozoa, bacteria, spermatozoa, etc., to swim.


  • a long slender structure that protrudes from the cell surface of a bacterium
  • can be as long as several micrometers
  • constructed of numerous subunits of the protein flagellin
  • may be attached singly or in group (either at the poles of the bacterial cell or scattered over the cell surface)

Function (the specific role in the cell)

  • primary role is locomotion
  • rotates from its base and propels the bacterium along
  • also functions as a sensory organelle, being sensitive to chemicals and temperatures outside the cell

Organisms that have flagellum

  • found in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells
  • bacterial flagellum are smaller and more simple where eukaryotic flagellum are larger and more complex structures
  • also bacterial flagellum are proton driven but eukaryotic flagellum are ATP driven
the flagella is the dark green, tail-like structure (shown on bacteria cell)

interesting facts

  • flagellar movement is chemically driven
  • without flagella reproduction couldn't occur
  • acidic pH will cause the flagella to fall off


cilium are defined short, microscopic, hairlike vibrating structures that provide propulsion.

structure (what its made of)

  • microscopic, hair-like structures that extend outward from the surface of many animal cells
  • typically between one and ten micrometers long and usually less than one micrometer wide
  • two different types; motile and non-motile

function (the specific role in the cell)

  • important in the cell cycle and replication
  • play a vital part in human and animal development and in everyday life
  • motile cilia move in a rhythmic or pulsating motion and use that motion to move the cell (some specifically keep sensitive internal passageways free of mucus or foreign particles)
  • non-motile cilia serve almost like antennas that receive sensory information for the cell, processing signals from the other cells or the fluids surrounding it
  • cilia in the kidney are forced to bend as urine flows past, which sends signals to the cells that it is flowing
  • non-motile cilia inside the eye are housed in the retina's photoreceptors, allowing important molecules to be transported from one end to the other

organisms that have cilia

  • found in many animal cells, not found plant cells
  • motile cilia (moving) are abundant in the respiratory tract, middle ear, and other body systems and non-motile cilia are more abundant in many different organs (example:kidneys)
  • body cells that have a single moving cilium are sperm cells, which use that cilium to propel the cell

diseases associated with cilia

  • defects that cause immotile cilia result in chronic respiratory infections, infertility, and congenital heart defects
  • defects in primary cilia share various symptoms that include loss of vision, obesity, diabetes, cystic kidney disease, mental retardation, polydactyly, and short bones

interesting facts

  • there's 100's of thousands of cilia per cell
  • there are cilia in your windpipe, functions in filtering dirt, dust, and mucus
  • smoking can destroy those cilia, causing it to not function properly which can destroy your lungs as a long term result
up close image of cilia through a high definition microscope


a lysosome is defined as an organelle in the cytoplasm of eukaryotic cells containing enzymes enclosed in a membrane.

Structure (what its made of)

  • fully membrane-bound
  • both structurally and chemically sphere-shaped structures that contain acid hydrolases
  • depending on the job they'll do in the cell, lysosomes can vary greatly in size

function (the specific role in the cell)

  • use enzymes to break down biomolecules like proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, and lipids, almost like a stomach digests food
  • also break down left over cellular wastes
  • digesting the unwanted materials from throughout the cytoplasm and from outside of the cell, and destroying useless components inside the cell
  • also in charge of cellular homeostasis, plasma membrane repair, cell signaling, and energy metabolism

Organisms that have lysosomes

  • found in animal cells
  • not present in red blood cells
  • fungi have a similar structure called vacuoles that serves the same purpose but actually is not considered a lysosome

Disease associated with lysosomes

  • tay-sachs disease
  • this disease is caused when the molecules that are supposed to be broken down accumulate instead because of the deficiency in one of the lysosomal enzymes
  • symptoms of the disease began shortly after birth; began to appear as ganglioside accumulate higher and higher inside the nerve cells and will make the infants become irritable, listless and may have seizures
  • blindness, deafness, and paralysis follow
  • it is incurable and most children affected by this disease die by the age of 5 :(((
what healthy neurons look like vs. neurons affected by tay-sachs

interesting facts

  • humorously called the "suicide bags" or "suicide sacs" of the cell because they destroy leftover content
  • the largest lysosomes can be as much as ten time larger than the smallest ones

Food Vacuole

a food vacuole is defined as a vacuole with a digestive function in the protoplasm of a protozoan.

structure (what its made of )

  • membrane bound sacs that stores food in cells

function (the specific role in the cell)

  • essentially a circular portion of the plasma membrane that encircles food particles when they enter the cell
  • the mechanism by which a cell 'eats,' so the food particles can be used as energy
  • this form of eating is called phagocytosis
  • works closely together with lysosomes
  • might store food or any variety of nutrients a cell might need to survive

organisms that have food vacuoles

  • only found in some cells of plants, protists, fungi, and animals

diseases associated with vacuoles

  • danon disease- caused by mutations in the LAMP 2 gene which usually helps with the fusion of autophagic vacuoles and lysosomes
  • leads to the breakdown of muscles cells
  • males with danons disease usually die at the young age of 19; while females usually die at the age of 31

Central Vacuole

a central vacuole is defined as a cellular organelle found in plant cells that is often the largest organelle in the cell.

structure (what its made of)

  • surrounded by a phospholipid bilayer
  • contains water and other enzymes that function during the life of the plant
  • the size and shape of the central vacuole depends on the type of cell they are in and their specific function

function (the specific role in the cell)

  • acts as a large container; stores food, stores wastes, stores pigment, toxic materials
  • can be used isolate materials that may be harmful to the cell
  • holds this obsolete material until it can be moved out of the cell
  • good storage place for water; when plants wilt, it's often because the water is being depleted from vacuoles

organisms that have central vacuoles

  • found in plant cells (usually the most noticeable organelle in plant cells)

interesting facts

  • vacuoles in plants often take up the majority of space inside the cell; can take up more than half of the cell's volume
  • there is only one vacuole in plants, the reason its named the "central vacuole"

Works Cited

  • "Function of Nucleus." SoftSchools Function of Nucleus. N.p., n.d. Web 23 Nov 2016.
  • "Function of Ribosomes." SoftSchools Function of Ribosomes. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.
  • "Endoplasmic Reticulum (Rough and Smooth)." British Society for Cell Biology. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.
  • "Animal and Plant Cells- Ribosomes". Ribosomes. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2016. (Tutorvista.com)
  • "Biology- Cell Nucleus". Ducksters Biology for Kids. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov 2016.
  • "Vacuole Diseases". Organelle Problems. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov 2016.
  • "Diseases Caused by Malfunction of Cell Organelles". Cell Membrane is Awesome. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov 2016
  • "Functions of Cilia". SoftSchools Function of Cilia. N.p., n.d. Web 28 Nov 2016.
  • "ER Stress and Diseases". NCBI Resources. N.p., n.d. Web 22 Nov 2016.
  • "Function of Lysosomes". SoftSchools Function of Lysosomes. N.p., n.d. Web 27 Nov 2016.
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Sarah Lighter

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