Skip to content

Rough endoplasmic reticulum: The cell city's industrial park

Updated Thursday 16th May 2002

Why is a cell's rough endoplasmic reticulum similar to a city's industrial park?

Rough endoplasmic reticulum Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is the site of synthesis of many proteins which will end up on the cell membrane, be exported from the cell or be sent to other specialised cell compartments.

All endoplasmic reticulum consists of a complex interconnected series of flattened sacs or membranes. Proteins are synthesized at the ribosomes. Many of these attach to the surface of the endoplasmic reticulum, making it look 'rough' under the microscope, hence the name.

As proteins are made on the ribosome, they are pushed into the sac. Here they are processed further, some are joined together with other different proteins whilst others are packaged for export or delivery within the cell.

Packages of proteins bud off from the ER and are transported around the cell.

Industrial park Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission INDUSTRIAL PARK

In order to make complex products, such as a car, many smaller components are needed. In many cases, the individual component factories are sited together on industrial parks as it makes sense to make all the required pieces close together and then assemble them. Similarly, some components are made and processed in a factory next door.

The proximity of the factories means final products are made efficiently and can be packaged for delivery within the city or perhaps for export.

 

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?

Other content you may like

Researching rare disorders: NGLY-1, the first disorder of deglycosylation Copyright free image Icon Copyright free: By The original uploader was TimVickers at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons article icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

Researching rare disorders: NGLY-1, the first disorder of deglycosylation

What happens when our cells can’t get rid of the waste products they produce?  Working on a project inspired by the passion of the rare disease community, Open University PhD student Sarah Needs explains:

Article
Proteins Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 3 icon

Science, Maths & Technology 

Proteins

In this free course we explore proteins and how they are the 'doers' of the cell. They are huge in number and variety and diverse in structure and function, serving both the structural building blocks and the functional machinery of the cell. Just about every process in every cell requires specific proteins. The basic principles of protein structure and function which are reviewed in this course are crucial to understanding how proteins perform their various roles.

Free course
12 hrs
Ribosome: The cell city's factories Creative commons image Icon sveeta under CC-BY-NC licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

Nature & Environment 

Ribosome: The cell city's factories

Why are a cell's ribosomes similar to a city's factories?

Article
Cytoskeleton: The cell city's transport system Creative commons image Icon currybet under CC-BY-SA licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

Nature & Environment 

Cytoskeleton: The cell city's transport system

Why is a cell's cytoskeleton similar to a city's transport system?

Article
Studying mammals: Meat eaters Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 1 icon

Nature & Environment 

Studying mammals: Meat eaters

The powerful and majestic carnivores are the focus of many television documentaries. In this free course, Studying mammals: Meat eaters, we will delve into the lives of these fearsome hunters and explore their physical adaptations and social behaviour. This is the fifth course in the Studying mammals series.

Free course
10 hrs
Ellen McCallie's Carriacou diary: Time and transmitters Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team article icon

Nature & Environment 

Ellen McCallie's Carriacou diary: Time and transmitters

Find out how the Rough Science team went about making a kite from natural products.

Article
People Like Me: Nicola Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: N. Morrison article icon

Nature & Environment 

People Like Me: Nicola

Who studies science? We talk to students and graduates - and meet Nicola

Article
Palaeobiology - The Biology of Ancient Organisms Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Adam Smith article icon

Nature & Environment 

Palaeobiology - The Biology of Ancient Organisms

Palaeobiology - an introduction to the subject

Article
From Mongolia to India, then straight back again Creative commons image Icon Work found at Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0 under Creative-Commons license audio icon

Nature & Environment 

From Mongolia to India, then straight back again

Bar-headed geese have one of the most demanding migratory patterns of all birds. Lucy Hawkes describes how they have adapted to the challenge

Audio
10 mins