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What characteristics do all eukaryotic cells have in common?

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Quick Answer

Eukaryotic cells all feature a nucleus, and their organelles are enclosed inside membranes. They also have a plasma membrane, which is a layer of phospholipids that surrounds the whole cell, and they feature an internal cytoskeleton.

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Full Answer

In comparison to prokaryotic cells, eukaryotic cells are at least 10 times larger. Their cytoplasm is composed of both ribosomes and cystol. Protected by their plasma membrane, they also have protections for each organelle in the form of individual membranes. The plasma membrane is the site for signaling and transport functions for the entire cell.

Within eukaryotic cells, the endomembrane system is a network of membranes sharing materials. The lysosomes, endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus are all part of this larger system. Eukaryotic cells also have an extracellular matrix made up of glycoproteins and proteins that other cells have secreted. This matrix sits around many different animal cells.

Eukaryotic cells move by the function of flagella or cilia, depending on the type of eukaryote. Flagella are tails at one end of the cell that whip to and fro, propelling the cell in one direction. Cilia are shorter and more numerous, and they all beat in concert to drive the cell in one particular direction.

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