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Human Cells

Human Cells are made up of lots of different parts. Each part has a purpose, and if you want to understand human health and biology; it all starts with getting a firm understanding of the cell.

Cells are compartmentalised.  These compartments are known as organelles and each have
specific functions.  There are also structural fibres and membranes as outlined below:

Plasma membrane 
This is the outer layer of the cell. It gives the cell its shape and holds the liquid inside the cell. It is semi-permeable which means it allows certain things to pass in and out of the cell.  The membrane itself is a phospholipid bilayer.

Nucleus
This is the part of the cell which holds the genetic material, the chromosomes and chromatin which are concerned with reproduction of the cell.  Inside the nucleus is the suborganelle known as the nucleolus, which functions to make and assemble ribosomes.

Cytoplasm  
This is the water based fluid inside the cell which contains salts and other ions and molecules suspended in solution.  Within the cytoplasm you will find filaments, proteins, organelles and vesicles.

Cytoskeleton  
A network of protein filaments in the cytoplasm that provide a structural framework for the cell, and it is responsible for cell movements.  Includes microtubules, microfilaments and intermediate filaments.

Golgi apparatus  
This is essentially a large folding membrane.  It serves as a processing factory within 
the cell, primarily working on proteins and lipids.  It also packages macromolecules for transport to other regions of the cell, or for secretion.

Lysosomes  
These organelles contain powerful enzymes known as hydolases that break down food molecules, old or unwanted organelles and even invading pathogens.

Ribosomes  
Ribosomes are tiny, roughly spherical structures attached to the rough endoplasmic reticulum. They are involved in the synthesis of proteins.

Centriole  
Centrioles are barrel shaped organelles made up of triplets of microtubules.  Found in pairs they form centrosomes which are important for cell division.

Mitochondrion
Mitochondria (plural of mitochondrion = mitochondria) are concerned with the respiration of the cell. Respiration produces energy for the cell. These are the cell’s powerhouses.

Endoplasmic reticulum  
Another membrane organelle that associates with the nuclear membrane.  Serves a variety of functions, the most important being protein synthesis and folding.  Some proteins move on to the Golgi for more modification and final packaging.

Peroxisomes
These organelles contain peroxides that digest lipids and some other foods.

Microvilli  

Found on cells that function to absorb, these are small extensions of the cell that serve to increase the cells overall surface area.  This in turn provides for more effeicient absorption.

Secretory Vesicles  
These bud off from different structures, such as the Golgi and contain different biomolecules that the cell either no longer needs, or that have been manufactured by the cell but are required in another cell or part of the body.

Flagellum and Cilia
Found on some cells, these allow movement or migration of cells, or the movement of fluids over cells, in the case of cilia.

Want to Learn More?

If you want to really understand cells properly, it takes some serious study. A good place to start is our 100 hour cell biology course.

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