Organization of the Cell

The cell is a mass of protoplasm surrounded by a semipermeable membrane.1 Cells constitute the smallest element of living matter capable of functioning independently; however, within complex organisms, cells may require interaction with other cells. To function independently, cells must produce nucleic acids, proteins, lipids, and energy. In complex organisms, these organic processes form and maintain tissues and the organism as a whole.

Genes consist of discrete regions of nucleic acids that encode proteins, and control the function of the cell. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA) comprise the two types of nucleic acids found in all cells. Chromosomes, made up of double-stranded DNA com-plexed with proteins, contain all the genes required for the cell to live and function.

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