AAT Bioquest

What are the important features of eukaryotic cells?

Posted June 6, 2022


These are some of the most important features of eukaryotic cells:

  • All eukaryotic cells contain a membrane-bound nucleus, which houses the cell’s genetic material in the form of linear DNA.  
  • Both layers of the bi-layer nuclear membrane are permeable to ions, molecules, and RNA material. 
  • Eukaryotic cells contain a number of membrane-bound organelles floating in the cytosol. Each of these organelles perform specialized functions. 
  • The plasma membrane is the outermost layer of eukaryotic cells. It separates the cell from the external environment. 
  • Proteins embedded in the eukaryotic cell’s plasma membrane facilitate the exchange of substances into and out of the cell. 
  • Ribosomes are the main site for protein synthesis. They are produced inside the nucleus and composed of proteins and ribonucleic acids.
  • Eukaryotic cells contain a membrane-bound Endoplasmic Reticulum, which is an intricate network of tiny, tubular structures. The Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) is of two types – Rough ER, which contains ribosomes embedded into the surface, and Smooth ER, which does not contain ribosomes.    
  • Mitochondria are another important feature of eukaryotic cells. They are responsible for energy production and regulation of cell metabolism. The inner layer of the bi-layer membrane is divided into folds known as cristae. 
  • Eukaryotic cells also contain a Golgi apparatus, which is the primary site for formation of glycolipids and glycoproteins. It is composed of flat, disc-shaped structures known as cisternae. 
  • Lysosomes, which are found in eukaryotic cells, possess hydrolytic enzymes. Lysosomes are referred to as suicidal bags because of their ability to digest carbohydrates, protein, nucleic acids, and lipids. 
  • Eukaryotic cells reproduce by a fairly complex process known as mitosis. 
  • A single cell can maintain several different environments, which helps them carry out diverse metabolic reactions. 

Eukaryotic cells have two features that are distinctive to plant cells only: 

  • The outermost layer of plant cells consists of a rigid cell wall that provides shape to the cell and facilitates cell-to-cell interaction. This cell wall is absent in animals.  
  • Plant cells also contain double-membraned structures known as plastids. These are of three types – chloroplast, chromoplast, and leucoplast. 
Additional resources

Eukaryotic cells and their cell bodies: Cell Theory revised


Cell Navigator™ Live Cell Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) Staining Kit *Blue Fluorescence*