Endoplasmic Reticulum Lesson for Kids: Definition & Function

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Learn about the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), one of the organelles found in the cytoplasm of a cell. Discover the two types of endoplasmic reticulum: rough ER and smooth ER, as well as their different roles in the cell. Updated: 12/08/2021

What Is Endoplasmic Reticulum?

Scientists refer to cells as the basic building blocks of life because they are found in every plant and animal. But cells are so much more than simple blocks that can be snapped together to make a flower, a dog or you.

Inside the cells of plants and animals are complex structures called organelles. Organelles are tiny living factories that provide the needs for the cell. The endoplasmic reticulum is a type of organelle. It's a collection of tubes that make, package, and transport proteins and fats.

The endoplasmic reticulum is a team player. It works with other organelles, including ribosomes, the Golgi apparatus and the nucleus. Each of these team players is important to the creation and transportation of proteins and fats within the cell. By the end of this lesson, you'll understand why the endoplasmic reticulum is one of the stars of the team!

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  • 0:03 What Is Endoplasmic Reticulum?
  • 1:01 Types of Endoplasmic Reticulum
  • 1:12 Rough ER
  • 1:53 Smooth ER
  • 2:53 Lesson Summary
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Types of Endoplasmic Reticulum

The endoplasmic reticulum is like two factories in one. There's rough endoplasmic reticulum, or rough ER, and smooth endoplasmic reticulum, or smooth ER.

Rough ER

Rough ER gets its name because it's covered in ribosomes, which look like little bumps. Ribosomes are organelles that make proteins. When the ribosomes on the rough ER make enough protein, the protein is packed up by the endoplasmic reticulum and placed in sacs called vesicles. These vesicles can carry protein around the cell to structures that need it. The vesicles often carry the protein to the Golgi apparatus, where the protein can be used in different ways.

Rough ER works closely with the nucleus of the cell. Its surface connects with the membrane that surrounds the cell nucleus. This close relationship allows for the easy movement of molecules that help with protein production.

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