Q:

What are some functions of a cytoskeleton?

A:

Quick Answer

The cytoskeleton helps a cell with its movement, support, shape and cell division. In biology, a cytoskeleton is defined as a network of protein filaments found within a cell's cytoplasm.

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Full Answer

A cytoskeleton has three main types of filaments:

  • Microfilaments - these are the thinnest filaments and generate force in the cell when they grow.
  • Intermediate filaments - these are more stable than the microfilaments and help with cell structure.
  • Microtubules - aid in intracellular transport and the synthesis of the cell wall in plants.

There are a number of different specialized structures within a cell called organelles. In order to do their job and move about the cytoplasm, the organelles attach themselves to the filaments of the cytoskeleton.

The cytoskeleton also helps to aid movement with the cell itself. Since the filaments that make up the cytoskeleton are continually being formed and disassembled, this causes internal forces that move the cell. One common example of cell movement is the sliding motion or crawling of white blood cells.

The cytoskeleton is also important in defining a cell's shape and giving it support. For the cells that do not have cell walls, the filaments of the cytoskeleton are what defines the shape of the cell. These same structures also give the cell support especially to the nuclear envelope. In the cell division process, the microtubules of the cytoskeleton aid in moving chromosomes to the second nucleus. In animal cells, the filaments help to constrict the center area between the two cells, which helps with the division process.

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