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NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms


organelle  listen  (OR-guh-NEL)

  A small structure in a cell that is surrounded by a membrane and has a specific function. Examples of organelles are the nucleus (a structure that contains the cell’s chromosomes and is where RNA is made), mitochondria (structures that make energy for the cell), and lysosomes (sac-like containers filled with enzymes that digest and help recycle molecules in the cell).

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Drawing showing a cell containing organelles, including the nucleus (contains DNA), the nucleolus, Golgi complex, mitochondria, and endoplasmic reticulum. Also shown are the cell membrane and a membrane receptor.