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Selasa, 27 Januari 2009

The Cytoskeleton

What is the cytoskeleton?

The cytoskeleton is a network of fibers throughout the cell's cytoplasm that helps the cell maintain its shape and gives support to the cell.

A variety of cellular organelles are held in place by the cytoskeleton.

Fibroblast cells. Fluorescent light micrograph of two fibroblast cells, showing their nuclei (purple) and cytoskeleton. The cytoskeleton is made up of microtubules of the protein tubulin (yellow) and filaments of the protein actin (blue). The cytoskeleton supports the cell's structure, allows the cell to move and assists in the transport of organelles and vesicles within the cell. Fibroblasts are cells forming connective tissue, and are responsible for secreting connective tissue proteins such as collagen.


What are some distinguishing characteristics?

The cytoskeleton is composed of at least three different types of fibers: microtubules, microfilaments and intermediate filaments.
These types are distinguished by their size with microtubules being the thickest and microfilaments being the thinnest.
  • Microtubules are hollow rods functioning primarily to help support and shape the cell and as "routes" along which organelles can move. Microtubules are typically found in all eukaryotic cells.
  • Microfilaments or actin filaments are solid rods and are active in muscle contraction. Microfilaments are particularly prevalent in muscle cells but similar to microtubules, they are also typically found in all eukaryotic cells.
  • Intermediate filaments can be abundant in many cells and provide support for microfilaments and microtubules by holding them in place.In addition to providing support for the cell, the cytoskeleton is also involved in cellular motility and in moving vesicles within a cell, as well as assisting in the formation of food vacuoles in the cell.

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