Information

Are There Exceptions to Animal Cells not Having Cell Walls?

Are There Exceptions to Animal Cells not Having Cell Walls?



We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

In the January Issue of SciAm (discussing Haemophilia):

When damage occurs to blood vessels, exposure of the blood to collagen in the cell walls and material released by the cells triggers the activation of clotting factors.

I read the original in print, but it is available online here.

This seems to imply that animal cells (in this example, those of humans) have cell walls. I sometimes see similar implications in other resources. However, in elementary biology, one is taught that animal cells never have cell walls.

Therefore, my question: Are references to animal cell cell walls (such as the above, for human animal cells) simple mistakes--or are they exceptions to a generalization?


Humans, as well as the rest of the metazoans (i.e. animals), absolutely do not have cell walls. What humans do have is extracellular matrix (ECM), which is the sort of fibrous, sort of gel-like material in which cells in many of the tissues are embedded. Collagen is a major component of ECM.

From the old copy of Alberts that is hosted on the NCBI website:

Tissues are not made up solely of cells. A substantial part of their volume is extracellular space, which is largely filled by an intricate network of macromolecules constituting the extracellular matrix (Figure 19-33). This matrix is composed of a variety of proteins and polysaccharides that are secreted locally and assembled into an organized meshwork in close association with the surface of the cell that produced them…

Two main classes of extracellular macromolecules make up the matrix: (1) polysaccharide chains of the class called glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), which are usually found covalently linked to protein in the form of proteoglycans, and (2) fibrous proteins, including collagen, elastin, fibronectin, and laminin, which have both structural and adhesive functions.


Animal Cell Parts

Animal cells depict various irregular shapes and sizes and are visible only under the microscope. This BiologyWise article elaborates on the definition and the function of the parts of animal cell it being the fundamental unit of life.

Animal cells depict various irregular shapes and sizes and are visible only under the microscope. This BiologyWise article elaborates on the definition and the function of the parts of animal cell it being the fundamental unit of life.

We all know that the cell is the most basic and the smallest unit of life. From the day life came into existence, cells have been broadly classified as prokaryotic cells and eukaryotic cells. The terms come from the Greek word “karyon” which means “nucleus” wherein “pro” means “before” and “eu” means “true”. Thus, prokaryotic cells have no nucleus and are supposed to be primitive in nature which means that eukaryotic cells have evolved from the former and show the presence of a nucleus.

Would you like to write for us? Well, we're looking for good writers who want to spread the word. Get in touch with us and we'll talk.

Animal cell is a form of eukaryotic cell that makes up the body tissues and, thus, the organs. This cell is pretty distinct from a plant cell. Cell wall and chloroplast are present in plant cells, while animal cells do not have cell walls. All the animal cells are not of the same shape, size, or function but the main cellular mechanism is the same which helps in proper functioning of the body. There are various parts which make up an animal cell, so let’s get an insight into what they do. The labeled diagram given below depicts the parts of an animal cell, which will help you in understanding the concept better.


2. Animal cells are supported by a cytoskeleton, use mitochondria to generate energy, and use lysosomes to help remove waste

Like bacteria, animal cells have a plasma membrane, cytoplasm, and DNA. However, you’ll notice that the inside and outside of animal cells looks quite different from that of bacteria. For one, animal cells don’t have a cell wall. Instead, they have a cytoskeleton, a network of filaments composed of proteins. The cytoskeleton provides support and internal transport for the cell.

In addition, most animal cells have a nucleus, a special organelle that stores DNA. The DNA inside the nucleus is usually organized into strings called chromosomes.

The cytoplasm of animal cells is filled with a variety of organelles that help the cells survive and reproduce. Here are some key cytoplasm-dwelling organelles and their functions:

The centrioles and pericentriolar material inside play a role in cell division and building microtubules

Modifies, sorts and packs proteins into transfer vesicles, so they can go elsewhere in the cell or be secreted

Help remove waste, break down toxic compounds, and recycle cell structures

Rough endoplasmic reticulum

Continuous with outer layer of nuclear envelope and has ribosomes embedded on the outer membrane helps transport materials within the cell segregates newly-made proteins for transport by vesicles

Smooth endoplasmic reticulum

Separate from the nuclear membrane, but continuous with the rough endoplasmic reticulum, and does not contain ribosomes site of lipid synthesis, carbohydrate metabolism and detoxification helps transport materials within the cell

Small membranous sacs that transport materials within the cell can fuse with the cell membrane to release contents


What Are the Differences Between Plant and Animal Cells?

Plant cells have to perform two functions that are not required of animal cells:

  1. Produce their own food (which they do in a process called photosynthesis).
  2. Support their own weight (which animals usually do by means of a skeleton).

The structures possessed by plant cells for performing these two functions create the primary differences between plant and animals cells. These structures are:

Structures Unique to Plant Cells

  • Cell Wall: A wall on the outside of the membrane, which, in combination with the vacuole (as described below), helps the plant cell maintain its shape and rigidity.
  • Plastids: Used in photosynthesis to convert sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water into food. The most well-known plastids are chloroplasts, which contain the chlorophyll that gives many plants their green hue.
  • Large Vacuole: While animal cells may have many tiny vacuoles, a plant cell usually has a single large vacuole, which serves as a storage tank for food, water, waste products, and other materials. The vacuole has an important structural function, as well. When filled with water, the vacuole exerts internal pressure against the cell wall, which helps keep the cell rigid. A plant that is wilting has vacuoles that are no longer filled with water.

While animal cells do not have a cell wall, chloroplasts, or a large vacuole, they do have one component plant cells do not. This is:


Overview of Animal Cells

Animals, plants, fungi, and protists are all made up of at least one eukaryotic cell. In contrast, bacteria and archaea are made up of a single prokaryotic cell.

All cells are surrounded by a cell membrane (also called a plasma membrane). The cell membrane is the boundary that separates the inside of the cell from the outside of the cell. The plasma membrane encloses all the cell components, which are suspended in a gel-like fluid called the cytoplasm. The cytoplasm is the location of the organelles.

Eukaryotic cells are distinguished from prokaryotic cells by the presence of a defined nucleus and other membrane-bound organelles, such as the mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, and Golgi apparatus. Prokaryotic cells do not have a defined nucleus (instead, a region of the cytoplasm – called the nucleotide – holds the genetic material). They also lack membrane-bound organelles.

Animals are all multicellular, meaning multiple cells work together to form the whole organism. In complex organisms, such as humans, these cells can be highly specialized to perform different functions. As such, they often look and function very differently from one another, even though they are all human cells.

Even within an organism, complex animals such as humans have a variety of different cell types. Each look and function very differently.

Animal Cells vs. Plant Cells

Animal cells and plant cells are both eukaryotic. Thus, they both have a defined nucleus and other membrane-bound organelles. However, animal and plant cells also have some fundamental differences.

Animal cells, unlike plant and fungi cells, do not have a cell wall. Instead, multicellular animals have other structures that provide support to their tissues and organs, such as skeleton and cartilage. Additionally, animal cells also lack chloroplasts found in plant cells. Chloroplasts are specialized organelles that trap energy from the sun and use it as fuel to produce sugars in a process called photosynthesis.

Additionally, while plant cells tend to have a large, central vacuole, animal cells lack this feature. Some animal cells do have small vacuoles, but their function is to assist in the storage and transport of large molecules.


Plant-like protists, or algae,usually have cell walls. These are similar to the cell walls of land plants in that they contain cellulose.Although most algae have cell walls some, such as the euglenids,don’t.

Fungi-like protists (AKA molds) also have cell walls containing cellulose. In this way, they are more similar to other protist species than true fungi, whose cell walls contain chitin.

Click here to learn more about the classification, characteristics, and different types of protists.


Ribosomes are the cellular structures responsible for protein synthesis. When viewed through an electron microscope, ribosomes appear either as clusters (polyribosomes) or single, tiny dots that float freely in the cytoplasm. They may be attached to the cytoplasmic side of the plasma membrane or the cytoplasmic side of the endoplasmic reticulum and the outer membrane of the nuclear envelope (Figure (PageIndex<1>)). Electron microscopy has shown us that ribosomes, which are large complexes of protein and RNA, consist of two subunits, aptly called large and small (Figure (PageIndex<6>)). Ribosomes receive their &ldquoorders&rdquo for protein synthesis from the nucleus where the DNA is transcribed into messenger RNA (mRNA). The mRNA travels to the ribosomes, which translate the code provided by the sequence of the nitrogenous bases in the mRNA into a specific order of amino acids in a protein. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins.

Figure (PageIndex<6>): Ribosomes are made up of a large subunit (top) and a small subunit (bottom). During protein synthesis, ribosomes assemble amino acids into proteins.

Because proteins synthesis is an essential function of all cells (including enzymes, hormones, antibodies, pigments, structural components, and surface receptors), ribosomes are found in practically every cell. Ribosomes are particularly abundant in cells that synthesize large amounts of protein. For example, the pancreas is responsible for creating several digestive enzymes and the cells that produce these enzymes contain many ribosomes. Thus, we see another example of form following function.


What are Plant Cells?

  • This cell wall, primarily composed of cellulose, is what provides the whole plant structure support and rigidity.
  • The primary function of plant cells is to carry out photosynthesis because of the presence of chlorophyll in their chloroplasts.
  • It was once believed that plant cells originated from the endosymbiosis between a single-celled photosynthetic organism and a larger proto-eukaryote.


Cell Organelles

Have you ever wondered what the inside of a cell looks like? If you think about the rooms in our homes, the inside of any animal or plant cell has many similar room-like structures called organelles. Here are some names and descriptions of organelles and other parts commonly found in cells.

Cell Wall: Protective Coat in Plant Cells

The presence of a cell wall is what provides the most significant difference between plant and animal cells, as it is present only in plant cells and covers the cell membrane.The cell wall is rigid and is composed of cellulose fibre, polysaccharides, and proteins. Despite the rigidity of the cell wall, chemical signals and cellular excretions are allowed to pass between cells.

Cell Membrane: Protective Coat in Animal Cells

The cell membrane is found in both plants and animals, and it is the outer most layer in the animal cell, that separates the contents of the cell from the outside world. It consists of both lipids and proteins and is selectively permeable, which means it permits only some molecules to pass through it.

Cytoplasm: Cell&rsquos Inner Space

Cytoplasm is a jelly-like material that is eighty percent water and is usually clear in colour. It is also called cytosol. Cytoplasm contains all the organelles inside the cell membrane. The cytosol contains dissolved nutrients, helps break down waste products, and moves material around the cell through a process called cytoplasmic streaming.

Nucleus: The Control Centre

The nucleus is known as the control centre of the cell.It contains the regulatory machinery responsible for all the activities inside the cell. It is the largest organelle in the cell and it contains the DNA of the cell. DNA contains all the information that helps cells live, perform their functions and reproduce.The nucleus has a double layered covering called nuclear membrane.

Vacuoles: Cell&rsquos Storage Space

A vacuole is a membrane-bound organelle that stores solid and liquid contents.Vacuoles are found in both animal and plant cells, but are much larger in plant cells. Vacuoles are formed by the fusion of multiple membrane vesicles and are effectively just larger forms of these. The organelle has no basic shape or size its structure varies according to the needs of the cell.