The Cell Wall and Glycocalyx

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Some eukaryotic cells have cell walls, although these walls are generally much simpler than those of prokaryotic cells. Most algae have cell walls consisting of the polysaccharide cellulose (as do all plants). Cell walls of some fungi also contain cellulose, but in most fungi the principal structural component of the cell wall is the polysaccharide chitin, a polymer of N-acetylglucosamine (NAG) units. (Chitin is also the main structural component of the exoskeleton of crustaceans and insects). The cell walls of yeasts contain the polysaccharides glucan and mannan.

In eukaryotes that lack a cell wall, the plasma membrane may be the outer covering (Costerton, 2001); however, cells that have direct contact with the environment may have coatings outside the plasma membrane. Protozoans do not have a typical cell wall; instead, they have a flexible outer covering called pellicle. In other eukaryotic cells, including animal cells, the plasma membrane is covered by a glycocalyx (“sugar coat”), a layer of material containing substantial amounts of sticky carbohydrates.

Some of these carbohydrates are covalently bonded to proteins and lipids in the plasma membrane, forming glycoproteins and glycolipids that anchor the glycocalyx to the cell. The glycocalyx strengthens the cell surface; helps attach cells together, and may contribute to cell-to-cell recognition (Ferris & Beveridge, 2005). An important clinical consideration is that eukaryotic cells do not contain peptidoglycan, the framework of the prokaryotic cell wall. This is significant medically because antibiotics, such as penicillins and cephalosporins, act against peptidoglycan and therefore do not affect human eukaryotic cells.

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy In conclusion, flagella are few and long in relation to cell size; cilia are numerous and short. The flagella …

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy In eukaryotic cells that lack a cell wall, the plasma membrane is the external covering of the cell. In …

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy Eukaryotic cells (from the Greek for true nucleus) have linear structures of DNA called chromosomes; these are found in …

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy This characteristic forms the basis of classification of Eubacteria. They are mainly classified as either Spherical Eubacteria also known …

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy The cytoplasm of the eukaryotic cell encompasses the matrix inside the cell membrane and outside the nucleus. The cytoplasm …

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy QUESTION: What is the importance of the cell membranes to life on the planet? ANSWER: All life forms on …

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