The Endomembrane System: Functions & Components

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: The Cytoskeleton: Microtubules and Microfilaments

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 1:00 Smooth Endoplasmic Reticulum
  • 2:18 Rough Endoplasmic Reticulum
  • 3:20 Golgi Apparatus
  • 4:36 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kristin Klucevsek

Kristin has taught college Biology courses and has her doctorate in Biology.

In this lesson, we'll learn about the endomembrane system, which consists of the endoplasmic reticulum and the Golgi apparatus. This system is important in making, packaging, and shipping all sorts of goodies for the cell to use!

The Endomembrane System

Diagram of the endomembrane system
Endomembrane System

No matter where you live in the world or what you celebrate, you've likely heard of Santa Claus and his tiny elves. These little elves make toys and games, wrap them up, label them with the names of good little boys and girls, and send them off with Santa to be delivered for Christmas.

Christmas seems to come every day for your cells, where tiny ribosomes make proteins all throughout the year. Once they're made, these proteins need to find a way to a good home - the right good home. In your cell, this is where the endomembrane system comes in. The endomembrane system is a series of compartments that work together to package, label, and ship proteins and molecules.

In your cells, the endomembrane system is made up of both the endoplasmic reticulum and the Golgi apparatus. These compartments are folds of membranes that form tubes and sacs in your cells.

Smooth Endoplasmic Reticulum

Location of the lumen in the cell

There are two parts to the structure known as the endoplasmic reticulum. Both have a membranous tubular structure and are located near the nucleus of the cell. Notice that the membrane folds, providing plenty of surface space for work to be done, like multiple benches for Santa's elves. This also creates compartments without any open ends. The lumen is the inside compartment of the endoplasmic reticulum. The lumen is completely separated from the cytoplasm that surrounds it.

You can tell apart the two types of endoplasmic reticulum in a cell image because one is studded with small ribosomes and one is not. The one without ribosomes is known as the smooth endoplasmic reticulum, because without ribosomes, it really looks like a membranous compartment of smooth tubes. This can also be referred to as the smooth ER, or simply the SER.

The smooth ER looks like a membranous compartment of smooth tubes.
smooth endoplasmic reticulum

The smooth ER is the site of lipid and steroid synthesis. In the lumen of the smooth endoplasmic reticulum, proteins and small molecules can be chemically modified. The smooth endoplasmic reticulum is also the detoxifying space of the cell. The liver is the detox organ of your body. Therefore, your liver cells can have more smooth endoplasmic reticulum than your heart cells, for example, as it uses this cellular component to detoxify drugs and alcohol.

Rough Endoplasmic Reticulum

The rough ER has an appearance similar to bubble wrap.

The part of the endoplasmic reticulum that contains ribosomes is named the rough endoplasmic reticulum. In the rough ER, or simply RER, there are membranous compartments and sacs studded with ribosomes. Ribosomes attached to this membrane make it look like folds of bubble wrap, perfect for wrapping presents.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support 福建福彩网 天水市 永康市 成都市 商洛市 大庆市 镇江市 临夏市 阜新市 巴中市 萍乡市 崇州市 邓州市 平度市 河津市 台中市 衡水市 明光市 凤城市 吉林省 石首市 龙海市 黄石市 叶城市 都匀市 武穴市 朝阳市 青岛市 凤城市 葫芦岛市 仙桃市 合肥市 孝感市 邢台市 兴城市 平度市 利川市 洮南市 信阳市 常州市 宁国市 南阳市 徐州市 北宁市 邢台市 鹿泉市 池州市 北宁市 台中市 华阴市 延吉市 铁力市 兴城市 淮安市 汉川市 东阳市 焦作市 西安市 佛山市 潍坊市 甘肃省