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. Activity 1 at the end of this free course is an interactive resource that provides more detailed images of subcellular structure.