Main article: Eukaryote
Eukaryotic cells are about 15 times wider than a typical prokaryote and can be as much as 1000 times greater in volume. The major difference between prokaryotes and eukaryotes is that eukaryotic cells contain membrane-bound compartments in which specific metabolic activities take place. Most important among theseis a cell nucleus, a membrane-delineated compartment that houses the eukaryotic cell's DNA. This nucleus gives the eukaryote its name, which means "true nucleus." Other differences include:
* The plasma membrane resembles that of prokaryotes in function, with minor differences in the setup. Cell walls may or may not be present.
* The eukaryotic DNA is organized in one or more linearmolecules, called chromosomes, which are associated with histone proteins. All chromosomal DNA is stored in the cell nucleus, separated from the cytoplasm by a membrane. Some eukaryotic organelles such as mitochondria also contain some DNA.
* Many eukaryotic cells are ciliated with primary cilia. Primary cilia play important roles in chemosensation, mechanosensation, and thermosensation. Cilia maythus be "viewed as sensory cellular antennae that coordinate a large number of cellular signaling pathways, sometimes coupling the signaling to ciliary motility or alternatively to cell division and differentiation."
* Eukaryotes can move using motile cilia or flagella. The flagella are more complex than those of prokaryotes.
Main article: Prokaryote
Diagram of atypical prokaryotic cell
The prokaryote cell is simpler, and therefore smaller, than a eukaryote cell, lacking a nucleus and most of the other organelles of eukaryotes. There are two kinds of prokaryotes: bacteria and archaea; these share a similar structure.
Nuclear material of prokaryotic cell consist of a single chromosome which is in direct contact with cytoplasm. Here the undefined nuclearregion in the cytoplasm is called nucleoid.
A prokaryotic cell has three architectural regions:
* On the outside, flagella and pili project from the cell's surface. These are structures (not present in all prokaryotes) made of proteins that facilitate movement and communication between cells;
* Enclosing the cell is the cell envelope – generally consisting of a cell wall covering a plasmamembrane though some bacteria also have a further covering layer called a capsule. The envelope gives rigidity to the cell and separates the interior of the cell from its environment, serving as a protective filter. Though most prokaryotes have a cell wall, there are exceptions such as Mycoplasma (bacteria) and Thermoplasma (archaea). The cell wall consists of peptidoglycan in bacteria, and acts asan additional barrier against exterior forces. It also prevents the cell from expanding and finally bursting (cytolysis) from osmotic pressure against a hypotonic environment. Some eukaryote cells (plant cells and fungi cells) also have a cell wall;
This schematic represents an idealized animal cell, e.g., a liver cell. The columns to the left and right of the labels contain links to...