Vesicle (biology)

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A vesicle can be visualised as a bubble of liquid within another liquid, a supramolecular assembly made up of many different molecules. More technically, a vesicle is a small membrane-enclosed sack that can store or transport substances. Vesicles can form naturally because of the properties of lipid membranes (see micelle), or they may be prepared. Artificially prepared vesicles are known as liposomes. Most vesicles have specialized functions depending on what materials they contain.

Because vesicles tend to look alike, it is very difficult to tell the difference between different types.

The vesicle is separated from the cytosol by at least one phospholipid bilayer. If there is only one phospholipid bilayer, they are called unilamellar vesicles; otherwise they are called multilamellar.

Vesicles store, transport, or digest cellular products and waste. The membrane enclosing the vesicle is similar to that of the plasma membrane, and vesicles can fuse with the plasma membrane to release their contents outside of the cell. Vesicles can also fuse with other organelles within the cell.

Because it is separated from the cytosol, the inside of the vesicle can be made to be different from the cytosolic environment. For this reason, vesicles are a basic tool used by the cell for organizing cellular substances. Vesicles are involved in metabolism, transport, buoyancy control,[1] and enzyme storage. They can also act as chemical reaction chambers.

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