The Cell Part III: Endoplasmic Reticulum

Previously mentioned was the last phase of protein synthesis, known as translation. That process was described; however, one thing was left out, where the process occurs. Where does this translation process happen? This essay will cover the maze-shaped organelle that hosts this process and its role in a cell.

That maze-shaped organelle that hosts this process is known as the Endoplasmic Reticulum (abbreviated ER), and is located just outside the nucleus. This organelle is also split into two sections, rough and smooth. The Rough ER has ribosomes on its walls, which assist in the aforementioned translation process. Each and every cell’s Rough ER hosts the translation process. The Smooth ER, on the other hand, can have a variety of purposes depending on what type of cell it happens to reside in. Smooth ER in liver cells, for example, assist in detoxifying chemicals and transforming them into safer substances. Other Smooth ER may produce calcium, lipids, or steroids. The Rough ER hosts the translation process which finalizes the manufacturing of proteins, but what does the smooth ER do? Doesn’t it have some role in the process of manufacturing and shipping proteins?

The answer to that is yes, the Smooth ER does have a role in manufacturing and shipping proteins. After the Rough ER hosts the translation process, the protein makes its way to the smooth ER, before being sent out, in a vesicle (sort of like a capsule) by the Smooth ER. The protein that was sent out may head straight to the plasma membrane. Or, the protein may head for another organelle known as the Golgi complex. Sometimes the proteins never leave. These proteins are incorporated into the Endomembrane System (Contains ER, Golgi complex, and a few other organelles) so they can carry out other functions.

In the end, one could say that the cells need the rough, and the smooth. While the Rough ER hosts the building of proteins, these proteins can’t be sent out to anywhere else without the Smooth ER. And if the Rough ER never existed, the Smooth ER would have no proteins to send out. Without the ER, we wouldn’t have proteins, and, consequently, we wouldn’t have the proteins that make up our skin, muscles, and hair. And without that, we wouldn’t be able to move to find food or eat it, let alone digest it. In addition, the Smooth ER also assists in detoxifying chemicals in our liver and producing lipids. The Endoplasmic Reticulum, both Rough and Smooth, is an important organelle for our cells and body.