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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the cytoskeleton
  • Compare the roles of microfilaments, intermediate filaments, and microtubules
  • Compare and contrast cilia and flagella
  • Summarize the differences among the components of prokaryotic cells, animal cells, and plant cells

If you were to remove all the organelles from a cell, would the plasma membrane and the cytoplasm be the only components left? No. Within the cytoplasm, there would still be ions and organic molecules, plus a network of protein fibers that help maintain the shape of the cell, secure some organelles in specific positions, allow cytoplasm and vesicles to move within the cell, and enable cells within multicellular organisms to move. Collectively, this network of protein fibers is known as the cytoskeleton    . There are three types of fibers within the cytoskeleton: microfilaments, intermediate filaments, and microtubules ( [link] ). Here, we will examine each.

Microfilaments line the inside of the plasma membrane, whereas microfilaments radiate out from the center of the cell. Intermediate filaments form a network throughout the cell that holds organelles in place.
Microfilaments thicken the cortex around the inner edge of a cell; like rubber bands, they resist tension. Microtubules are found in the interior of the cell where they maintain cell shape by resisting compressive forces. Intermediate filaments are found throughout the cell and hold organelles in place.

Microfilaments

Of the three types of protein fibers in the cytoskeleton, microfilaments are the narrowest. They function in cellular movement, have a diameter of about 7 nm, and are made of two intertwined strands of a globular protein called actin ( [link] ). For this reason, microfilaments are also known as actin filaments.

This illustration shows two actin filaments wound together. Each actin filament is composed of many actin subunits connected together to form a chain.
Microfilaments are made of two intertwined strands of actin.

Actin is powered by ATP to assemble its filamentous form, which serves as a track for the movement of a motor protein called myosin. This enables actin to engage in cellular events requiring motion, such as cell division in animal cells and cytoplasmic streaming, which is the circular movement of the cell cytoplasm in plant cells. Actin and myosin are plentiful in muscle cells. When your actin and myosin filaments slide past each other, your muscles contract.

Microfilaments also provide some rigidity and shape to the cell. They can depolymerize (disassemble) and reform quickly, thus enabling a cell to change its shape and move. White blood cells (your body’s infection-fighting cells) make good use of this ability. They can move to the site of an infection and phagocytize the pathogen.

To see an example of a white blood cell in action, click here and watch a short time-lapse video of the cell capturing two bacteria. It engulfs one and then moves on to the other.

Intermediate filaments

Intermediate filaments are made of several strands of fibrous proteins that are wound together ( [link] ). These elements of the cytoskeleton get their name from the fact that their diameter, 8 to 10 nm, is between those of microfilaments and microtubules.

This illustration shows 10 intermediate filament fibers bundled together.
Intermediate filaments consist of several intertwined strands of fibrous proteins.

Intermediate filaments have no role in cell movement. Their function is purely structural. They bear tension, thus maintaining the shape of the cell, and anchor the nucleus and other organelles in place. [link] shows how intermediate filaments create a supportive scaffolding inside the cell.

Questions & Answers

what is science?
Benedict Reply
Science is the method of acquiring skills and knowledge through experimentation and observation in the World Series
Richmond
what is ecology
Bitwell
where does meiosis occur in male plant reproductive organ
Gimai Reply
plant cell is plasmolysed as a result of the
Favour Reply
of the plant losing water
Esnart
"Head of a pin" means what?
Theresah Reply
types of genotype and types of blood group
Adebusuyi Reply
what is biology
Musa Reply
is the study of cell and structure of an organism
Atem
is the study of characteristics,life processes and phenomana of living organism
Atem
What is Monomer of protein?
Dimpho Reply
What's nutrition and types of nutrition
Jessica Reply
Why is cheetah d fastest animal
Jessica Reply
because they are capable of reaching speeds of up to 70mph
Abu
Thanks
Jessica
what is a cell
Reuben Reply
what is an enzymes
Reuben
a cell is a biological catalyst that speeds up the rate of a chemical reaction without itself been changed
Israel
a cell is smallest unit of life
Francis
an Enzyme helps speed up a chemical reaction
Francis
is the basic structural and functional unit of all organism
Atem
what is deamination
Mutebi Reply
Is the removal of amino radical from amino acid or any other amino compound.
Esnart
what is metabolism
Allen Reply
metabolism is the the combination of all the reaction that occur within your body
xjuicy_editzz
These reaction can be either anabolic (which is the building up of molecules) or can be catabolism (breaking of molecules) but these processes occur simultaneously to maintain homeostasis(internal body environment) within the body.
xjuicy_editzz
hope that helps :D !!
xjuicy_editzz
list 20 element in their order
Dor Reply
hydrogen helium lithium beryllium boron carbon nitrogen oxygen fluorine neon sodium Magnesium aluminium silicon phosphorus sulfur chlorine Aaron potassium calcium -Also if anyone is having trouble remembering the elements I recommend watching "The Periodic Table of elements song" :)
xjuicy_editzz
anabolic, Because ATP is needed
Avuyileji Reply
?
xjuicy_editzz
definition of biology
LENARD Reply
the branch of science that deals with the study of plants and animals
Emmanuel

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Source:  OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11448/1.10
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