Cytoskeleton: The skeleton of the cell PLUS MORE

Thursday, August 13, 2020

What is the function of the cytoskeleton?

If you take a look at most drawings of a cell and the cell organelles a major component is usually missing, the cytoskeleton.

 As the name implies it is the skeleton of the cell. plus it has a couple more jobs that help keep the cell alive. 

The cytoskeleton is a network of filaments running throughout the cell. It has several different jobs in the cell.

First, it helps provide support much like your skeleton provides support for you.

Second, it provides tracks or highways for the movement of vesicles and other objects in the cell.

Third, the cytoskeleton helps pull the chromosomes apart during mitosis and even helps the cell move. Some single-cell organisms move using cilia made up of cytoskeleton filament.


The cytoskeleton consists of three types of fibers, microfilaments, intermediate filaments, and microtubules.

Types cytoskeleton

Microfilaments are fine, thread-like protein fibers. They are composed predominantly of a protein called actin. These filaments create service highways for the vesicles that need to be moved in the cell and may hold organelles in place.


Intermediate filaments are medium in length and help maintain the shape of the cell.

For example, a red blood cell has a unique donut shape and the cytoskeleton filaments help produce this unique shape.

Microtubules are the largest filaments and also create tracks for proteins. Think of the microtubules as roads in the cell They also help pull the chromosomes apart during anaphase.

Microtubules also help with the movement of the entire cell by

helping to create flagella or cilia that help propel certain cells.

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