Biology4Kids.com Home Page Scientific Methods Cell Structure Cell Function Microbes Plants Animals Biology Activities Biology4Kids Sections Search
Cell Structure
 

Microtubules - Thick Protein Tubes

Microtubules are usually discussed with microfilaments. Although they are both proteins that help define cell structure and movement, they are very different molecules. While microfilaments are thin, microtubules are thick, strong spirals of thousands of subunits. Those subunits are made of the protein called tubulin. And yes, they got their name because they look like a tube.

Elements of the Cytoskeleton

All of the microfilaments and microtubules combine to form the cytoskeleton of the cell. The cytoskeleton is different from cytoplasm (cytosol). The cytoskeleton provides structure. Cytoplasm is just a fluid. The cytoskeleton connects to every organelle and every part of the cell membrane. Think about an amoeba. All of the pieces work together so that the foot might reach out towards the food. Then lysosomes and peroxisomes are sent to begin digestion. The movement of the cell membrane, organelles, and cytoplasm is all related to the tubules and filaments.

Moving Chromosomes

Microtubules have many more uses than just cell structure. They are also very important in cell division. They connect to chromosomes, help them with their first split, and then move to each new daughter cell. They are a part of a small pair of organelles called centrioles that have the specific purpose to help a cell divide. Once the cell has finished dividing, the microtubules are put to work in other places.

Moving Organisms

Beyond the role they play in internal cell movement, microtubules also work together to form larger structures that work on the outside of the cells. They can combine in very specific arrangements to form cilia and flagella. Cilia are little hairs you might see on the outside of a paramecium or other protists. They flap back and forth to help the cell move. Flagella are long, thick tails. They whip around and sometimes twirl, pushing the cell along.

Next Page on Cell Structure
 
- Overview
- Cell Membrane
- Membrane Proteins
- Cell Walls
- Connections
- Cytoplasm
- Nucleus
- Chromosomes
- Centrioles
- Ribosomes
- Mitochondria
- Chloroplasts
- Endo. Reticulum
- Golgi Complex
- Vacuoles
- Microfilaments
> Microtubules
- Lysosomes
- Peroxisomes

MORE BIOLOGY TOPICS



Link to Cosmos4Kids.com Link to Biology4Kids.com Link to Chem4Kids.com Link to Geography4Kids.com Link to Physics4Kids.com Link to NumberNut.com Rader Network Side Navigation
 

Microscopic Motors of Life (UC San Francisco Video)
RETURN TO TOP
- or -

Cell Structure Quiz

Cell Organelles Quiz

Useful Reference Materials

Encyclopedia.com:
http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/microtubule.aspx
Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microtubule
Encyclopædia Britannica:
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/380723/microtubule
Books on Amazon.com:
- Modern Biology (Rinehart and Holt)
- Campbell Biology (Campbell, Reece, Urrym Cain, and Wasserman)
- Campbell Biology: Concepts and Connections (Reese, Taylor, Simon, and Dickey)
- Prentice Hall: Biology (Miller and Levine)


 
RELATED LINKS
- Biology4Kids: Active Transport
- Chem4Kids: Biochemistry
- Chem4Kids: Proteins
- Physics4Kids: Work

  RETURN TO TOP
or
Search for more information...

* The custom search only looks at Rader's sites.
 

Help Page Go for site help or a list of life science topics at the site map!
©copyright 1997-2014 Andrew Rader Studios, All rights reserved.
Current Page: Biology4Kids.com | Cell Structure | Microtubule



** Andrew Rader Studios does not monitor or review the content available at external web sites. They are paid advertisements and neither partners nor recommended web sites. Specific links for books on Amazon.com are only suggested starting points for further research. Please browse, research options, and choose the appropriate materials for your needs.