A tour of the cell
A tour of the cell

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

4 The organisation of eukaryotic cells

In eukaryotic cells many activities are compartmentalised within the organelles. The different organelles serve different functions, although in fact each type of organelle (e.g. the nucleus, or the endoplasmic reticulum, described later in this section) may play a role in several different activities. Some activities, for example the production and processing of proteins, involve different parts of the cell, or several organelles, as you will see.

  • Suggest some key cellular functions or processes.

  • You may have thought of the synthesis of different macromolecules (DNA, proteins, lipids and carbohydrates), secretion, movement, cell division, protection, and there are many more!

Below, a 'tour' through the eukaryotic cell describes the different subcellular components and their functions, with an emphasis on a typical higher (mammalian) animal cell, but also describing some of the cell components in other eukaryotic organisms. It should become clear, as you work through this section, that eukaryotic cells and their components are highly dynamic.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371