Specialized membrane-bound part of a cell
|Anatomical terms of microanatomy|
In cell biology, an organelle is a specialized subunit within a cell that has a specific function. Organelles are either separately enclosed within their own lipid bilayers (also called membrane-bound organelles) or are spatially distinct functional units without a surrounding lipid bilayer (non-membrane bound organelles).
The name organelle comes from the idea that these structures are parts of cells, as organs are to the body, hence organelle, the suffix -elle being a diminutive. Organelles are identified by microscopy, and can also be purified by cell fractionation. There are many types of organelles, particularly in eukaryotic cells. While prokaryotes do not possess organelles per se, some do contain protein-based bacterial microcompartments, which are thought to act as primitive organelles.