What Is Cytoplasm?

Read here to find out all about cytoplasm.

Have you ever wondered what fills up your cells? Look no further... it's cytoplasm, a gooey, liquid substance that holds everything in a cell outside of the nucleus.

Every cell has three parts, whether it be a blood cell, brain cell, or reproductive cell. It contains a membrane with channels to let materials into and out of a cell. It contains cytoplasm, which can be basically defined as anything in between the membrane and the nucleus of a cell. And it contains the nucleus, which is the home of a cell's chromosomes, or genetic material.

Cytoplasm is defined as the material that lies within the cytoplasmic membrane, or the membrane that surrounds a cell. It contains none of a cell's genetic material, because this is contained in the nucleus. It does, however, contain a lot of water, and the other organelles of the cells. It provides a platform upon which they can operate within the cell. It is made up of proteins, vitamins, ions, nucleic acids, amino acids, sugars, carbohydrates and fatty acids. All of the functions for cell expansion, growth and replication are carried out in the cytoplasm of a cell.

The organelles inside cytoplasm are very important for the maintenance of the cell. Some of the most important organelles that cytoplasm contains are the mitochondria, proteins, ribosomes, the endoplasmic reticulum, the Golgi apparatus, lysosomes and the cytoskeleton. Mitochondria are sites of energy-making, because they contain the materials necessary for ATP synthesis, or the fueling of the cell. The cytoskeleton is a network of protein fibers that give support to the cell, and help it maintain shape. The endoplasmic reticulum is the site of lipid (fat) and protein synthesis, and the Golgi apparatus is the packaging plant of a cell. Lysosomes are small sacs of digestive enzymes in the cell for eating. They are like little stomachs traveling around the cell! Proteins and ribosomes move through the cell acting as catalysts for various chemical processes.

In a roundabout way, some genetic material does reach the cytoplasm. The endoplasmic reticulum is an RNA-coding area, before this information is sent to the nucleus.

If a person is born with irregular cytoplasm, in most cases they do not live. Cytoplasm is so essential to the cell, it requires working order to operate and maintain life. However, some unusual cases of cytoplasmic irregularity do exist, and scientists are learning how to transplant cytoplasm into cells to help them function normally. Also, cytoplasm in animals is being examined for ways to enter the cell and penetrate nucleii with cures for certain diseases.

Other uses for cytoplasm are being developed. Recently, it allowed scientists a close view of the HIV virus as it entered a cell. Cytoplasm also is used extensively in cloning, when information is transferred from the mother to the cloning host. If the cytoplasm of a reproductive egg is faulty, now new cytoplasm can be transferred into the egg to maintain reproductive power. Plant cytoplasm is used for new biotechnology experiments every day.

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