Cell nucleus

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The cell nucleus is an organelle within an eukaryotic cell. Its has two main functions :

  • to control chemical reactions in the cell cytoplasm
  • to store information needed for when the cell divides

The nucleus controls reactions by controlling the formation of proteins and enzymes. It is also the place where the transcription of genes and mRNA splicing occur.

Structure

http://www.nupedia.com/newsystem/upload_file/871/nucleus_ER.png
Drawing of nucleus and the endoplasmic reticulum.
(1) Nuclear envelope. (2) Ribosomes. (3) Nuclear pore complexes. (4) Nucleolus.
(5) Chromatin. (6) Nucleus. (7) Endoplasmic reticulum. (8) Nucleoplasm.
The whole structure is surrounded by cytoplasm. (Drawing is based on ER images.)
Image from Nupedia server.

The nucleus varies in diameter from 10 to 20 micrometres. It is surrounded by a double membrane forming the nuclear envelope, about 30 nm wide. This selectively allows molecules to enter and leave the nucleus, and separates chemical reactions taking place in cytoplasm from reactions happening within the nucleus. The outer membrane has ribosomes. The inner and outer membrane fuse at regular spaces, forming nuclear pores.

Similar to the cytoplasm of a cell, the nucleus contains nucleoplasm - a highly viscous liquid containing the chromosomes and nucleoli. Chromosones contain information encoded in DNA attached to proteins called histones and are usually arranged in to a dense network called chromatin. Nucleoli are granular structures which make ribonucleic DNA (rDNA) and assemble it with proteins.