All cells in the human body have three distinctive parts. These are the nucleus, the cytoplasm, and the cell membrane. The cell membrane is the outer-boundary of a cell, and it contains various channels to let materials into and out of a cell. The nucleus is at the center of the cell, and it is home to all of a cell’s chromosomes, or genetic material. The cytoplasm, then, is basically everything else. Everything in a cell which lays between the nucleus and the outer membrane is considered to be the cells ‘cytoplasm’.
Cytoplasm does not contain genetic materials
Cytoplasm is basically the substance that fills the cell. It is usually a jelly-like fluid that is about 80% water, and usually it is clear in color. Cytoplasm is actually a little bit thicker than water. The cytoplasm is literally the ‘cell substance’ and it is kind of a ‘molecular soup’ of all kinds of different things with various functions. It is not just ‘filler fluid’. But, none of a cells genetic materials are found in the cytoplasm. All of the genetic material and genetic instructions contained in a cell are to be found in the nucleus. If there is some kind of problem with cell growth such as occurs in breast carcinomas, then this ‘genetic problem’ originates in the nucleus of the new cells. However, there will be evidence of these genetic abnormalities found floating in the surrounding cytoplasm, and this can be observed in various ways.
Cytoplasm is really more of a ‘space’ than a fluid: microtrabecular lattice, microtubules, cytoskeleton.
If a cells’s cytoplasm was viewed with an electron microscope, it would actually appear as a three-dimensional lattice of delicate protein-rich strands. These lattices are usually referred to as microtrabecular lattice (MTL) and they support and interconnect the other “solid” structures in the cytoplasm. So the cytoplasm is kind of like a ‘fence’ which is made up interconnected lattices. Essentially, this microtrabecular lattice holds and separates the different organelles within the cytoplasm. This lattice also goes by a couple of other names. Some people refer to these little compartments as ‘microtubules’, and the actual strands that form the lattice are sometimes referred to as the ‘cytoskeleton’.
Organelles, Inclusions, and Cytosol
‘Cytoplasm’ is understood as ‘the substance of the cell other than the nucleus and cell membrane’, and it is basically a fluid in nature. But like most biological functions, the way that cytoplasm works is actually quite complex, and in terms of a more detailed explanation we can break down the term ‘cytoplasm’ to actually include at least three different, related, components. “Cytosol” is a term used to describe the actual fluid elements of the cytoplasm, if we are speaking in greater detail. “Organelles” are actually the functional elements within the cytolplasm. It is still a generic term inclusive of many different elements, but essentially the organelles are membrane-bound compartments within the cell that have specific functions. The third basic component of cytoplasm are the “inclusions” , which refers to small particles of insoluble substances suspended in the cytosol.
The organelles within the cytoplasm do not contain any of a cells genetic material, because all of that is exclusive contained within the nucleus. The organelles inside cytoplasm are very important for the maintenance of the cell. Some of the most important organelles that cytoplasm contains are the ribosomes, mitochondria, proteins, the endoplasmic reticulum, lysosomes, and the the Golgi apparatus. The mitochondria are areas of ‘energy-making’, because they contain the materials necessary for ATP synthesis, or the fueling of the cell. The endoplasmic reticulum is the site of lipid (fat) and protein synthesis. So, for example, when various histological evaluations of breast cancer tumor biopsy samples are looking for evidence of various hormones, hormone receptors, and proteins, any of this activity will be taking place within the cytoplasm, and specifically because of the functioning of the endoplasmic reticulum organelle.
The Golgi apparatus might be thought of as the ‘packaging plant’ of a cell. The primary function of the Golgi apparatus is to process and package macromolecules, which would include proteins and lipids, after their synthesis but before they make their way to their destination. So the golgi apparatus is like a sorting, packing, and distribution mechanism.
Lysosomes are small sacs of digestive enzymes. They can be thought as as little ‘stomachs’ traveling around within the cells’ cytoplasm. Lysosomes break up waste materials and cellular debris, so a pathologist can find evidence of the functioning of the lysosomes based on the kinds of wastes and deposits that are floating within or on top of the cytoplasm. There are certain kinds of debris and deposits that are associated with breast cancer and other benign breast conditions, and other deposits that one might find in a normally functioning cell. In terms of breast cancer diagnosis, the question is as to whether or not there is anything unusual about the waste deposits.
The cytosol is the actual fluid component of the cytoplasm. It usually makes up about 70% of a cell’s volume, and is composed of water, salts, and organic molecules including vitamins, ions, nucelic acids, amino acids, sugars, carbohydrates, fatty acides, proteins. All the other cytoplasmic elements are ‘suspended’ in the cytosol.
The inclusions are the small particles of insoluble substances suspended in the cytosol. The waste products and deposits from various biological processes carried out by the organelles within the cytoplasm would can be considered as ‘inclusions’, but there is actually quite a large variety of these particles. Granules of energy-storage materials such as starch, glycogen,or polyhydroxybutyrate are also considered to be ‘inclusions’.
The importance of ‘cytoplasm’ to breast cancer diagnosis
Breast cancer is a genetic disease which causes rapid and uncontrolled growth of harmful cells. As these cells grow, certain hormones and proteins will be released into the cytoplasm (or literally, they will be floating in the cytosol). One of the processes of histological evaluation of biopsy samples from potentially cancerous tumors is the ‘immunochemical’ analysis of the cytoplasm fluid. Through the use of various ‘dye’ agents of different colors, which ‘react’ chemically to different proteins, a pathologist can actually ‘see’ if there are unusual proteins and hormones suspended in the cytoplasm. They can also tell if certain types of waste products, possibly associated with breast cancer, are present in the cytoplasm, and can also evaluate how much blood and oxygen is being used by those cells. All of this activity and all of this evidence will be happening within the cell’s cytoplasm. Also, the consistency and color of the cytoplasm can give an indication of suspicious or non-normal biological processes happening at the cellular level.
- Tulusan, AH., Hamann, M., Prestele, H., Ramming, I., von Maillot, K., Egger, H. Correlations of the receptor content and ultrastructure of breast cancer cells. Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics Volume 231, Number 3, 177-184
- Frolova, N., Edmonds, M., Bodenstine, TM., Seitz, R., Johnson, MR., Feng, R., Welch, DR., Frost, AR., A Shift from Nuclear to Cytoplasmic Breast Cancer Metastasis Suppressor 1 Expression Is Associated with Highly Proliferative Estrogen Receptor-Negative Breast Cancers. Tumor Biology (2009)Vol. 30, no.3.
- McConnell BV, Koto K, Gutierrez-Hartmann A. Nuclear and cytoplasmic LIMK1 enhances human breast cancer progression. Mol Cancer. (Jun 2011);10:75.
- Yasuoka H, Tsujimoto M, Yoshidome K, Nakahara M, Kodama R, Sanke T, Nakamura Y. Cytoplasmic CXCR4 expression in breast cancer: induction by nitric oxide and correlation with lymph node metastasis and poor prognosis. BMC Cancer. (Nov. 2008) ;8:340.
Why is this on a breast cancer website?
I remember being school age and learning all this in school in the 1970s. Then in middle-age life came the internet, websites and search engines, and I happened to have an interest in making a breast cancer website, so I did, and made this page too. 15 years later I see this page again, it’s still basic information that everyone can learn, if they want to understand cancer. And cancer touches everyone at some stage in their lives. So learning it is not a waste. How people learn, from different kinds of media changes, but basics of how life works, stays the same.
Maybe, way back in school, I liked studying biology, and thought, I could be a doctor someday, if it’s information like this.
Anyway, here’s just another mention of cancer: Cytoplasm is a word used frequently in the context of breast cancer, particularly with respect to the histological and cytological evaluation of biopsy samples. Cancer is basically a disease of about new cells which are not growing properly, or are growing in an uncontrolled way. So if there is a concern about breast cancer, ultimately some tissue samples are going to have to be examined and analyzed under a microscope, at the cellular level. If there are unusual biological events happening to the cells in a particular tissue area, there will be evidence for this in the cellular cytoplasm.
One day, I noticed that this page ranks well in Google, which is odd because most people searching for the word cytoplasm, are probably students of some kind. So I thought I should try a little harder to be helpful to students. Thus was born, the Question and Answer section.
Q and A
- Where is cytoplasm made? In prisons.
- Describe the process by which cytoplasm divides in two. It unzips.
- Who has a cytoplasm? Ghosts do.
- Where is cytoplasm located in elodea? Under the bridge near the market.
- Which scientist discovered cytoplasm? Klaus Barbie.
- Who does the cytoplasm work with? Jim Bob.
- Secretion where cytoplasm is lost? Sweat, sometimes puke.
- Which kingdoms have cytoplasm? Only the Dongs.
- Who named cytoplasm? Doctors with illegible handwriting.
- Where is cytoplasm in an animal and plant cell? Prison terms for bosses and bitches.
- Who discovered cytoplasm in 1835? The Beagle on Charles Darwin’s ship.
- What is cytoplasm like in real life? Too emotional.
- When does the cytoplasm divide in meiosis? While avoiding halitosis.
- Describe cytoplasm in a nerve cell. Cool.
- Cytoplasm function in eukaryotic cells? Smuggling cigarettes.
- Cytoplasm function in prokaryotic cells? Making shivs.