Cytosol: Definition, Function & Structure

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  • 0:01 Cells
  • 0:26 Cytosol Components
  • 1:51 Function
  • 2:57 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: John Williams
The cell is the basic unit of life and contains multiple organelles in order to function. One of the key components that supports these organelles is the cytosol. This article discusses cytosol, its functions, and its structure.


The cell is the basic unit of life. Every organism on Earth consists of a cell or cells, and these units are responsible for several life processes. The function of these cells will be determined from the organelles, or little organs, found in each. However, the structural support of these organelles will be provided by a major cellular component known as the cytosol.

Cytosol Components

The cytosol, by definition, is the fluid in which organelles of the cell reside. This is often confused with cytoplasm, which is the space between the nucleus and the plasma membrane. Therefore, the cytosol technically does not include organelles. This distinction is often disregarded, but it is very important for the understanding of the cell and the functions of cytosol.

Cell Components: Arrows Indicate Cytosol
Cell components

The primary component of cytosol is water. Water makes up 70% of a cell and is primarily in the cytosol to dissolve other components. This includes polar molecules and ions, or charged particles. Additionally, this water can be used to assist in chemical reactions within the cell. This will help aid in cellular metabolism.

Proteins and other macromolecules will dissolve in cytosol when not being used. Since most macromolecules (with the exception of lipids) are polar, they can dissolve in the watery component of cytosol for storage. This is beneficial for the cell because it allows the cell to store materials for future use and makes them readily accessible. Additionally, enzymes, which are biological catalysts, are often found in the cytosol in order to speed up chemical reactions within the cell.

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