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Cytoplasmic Constituents

©2001 Timothy Paustian, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Cytoplasm

The cytoplasm or protoplasm is the portion of the cell that lies within the cytoplasmic membrane. The cytoplasmic matrix is defined as substances within the plasma membrane, excluding the genetic material. It is relatively featureless by electron microscope - although small granules can be seen. However, the cytoplasm carries out very important functions for the cell.


  • Gel-like consistency, with very different properties when compared to a solution made up in a test tube.
  • Compartmentalization
    • The glycolysis enzymes are organized into a unit and degrade substrate in a assembly line fashion.
    • Many DNA synthesis enzymes congregate at the replication fork.
  • Constituents
    • Proteins including enzymes
    • Vitamins
    • Ions
    • Nucleic acids and their precursors
    • Amino acids and their precursors
    • Sugars, carbohydrates and their derivatives
    • Fatty acids and their derivatives


The cytoplasm holds many cellular constituents, including the cell pool (above). It is within the cytoplasm that many of the functions for cell growth, metabolism and replication are carried out.

Specific regions of interest in the cytoplasm

  • Genetic regions - The regions containing the hereditary information for the cell.

  • Proteins - Found throughout the cell either as reaction catalysts or in various structures of the cell.

  • Ribosomes - The protein synthesis machinery.

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