The endoplasmic reticulum contributes to the mechanical support and distribution of the cytoplasm and is the pathway for transporting lipids and proteins throughout the cell. The endoplasmic reticulum also provides the surface area for the chemical reaction that synthesizes lipids, it stores lipids and proteins until the cell needs them.
The endoplasmic reticulum consists of cisterns, which are a network of flattened membranous sacs. The end of these cisterns can be pinched off to become membrane-enclosed sacs called secretory vesicles. Vesicles transport synthesized material in the cell.
There are two kinds of endoplasmic reticula.
• Rough endoplasmic reticulum. Covered by ribosomes, which are the sites for synthesizing protein.
• Smooth endoplasmic reticulum. Not covered by ribosomes, this is the site for synthesizing lipids.
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