Function of the Cytoskeleton

As the name implies, the cytoskeleton is a kind of structural scaffold found within a cell's cytoplasm. It is present in all cells, but was originally thought to only be found in eukaryotes; new research has recognized a prokaryotic cytoskeleton as well.

The cytoskeleton forms mobility structures such as flagella and cilia, and plays vital roles in intracellular transport and cellular division. The cytoskeleton is directly responsible for the movement of organelles in the cell.

Many cells contain three different kinds of filaments that make up the cytoskeleton: microfilaments, intermediate filaments, and microtubules.

The primary function of the cytoskeleton is to provide structure and support for the cell, but it also plays a role in maintaining the number of macromolecules within the cell by forcing some of them out if necessary.

Parts of the cytoskeleton actually interact quite extensively with the cellular membrane, leading to the discovery of a few drugs that act on the actin and microtubules in the cytoskeleton. These drugs already have important clinical uses.

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