Cytoskeleton is the structure that gives living cells their form, shape and help in the movement of the cell. Imagine a cell being observed with the help of a microscope. It is a self contained unit having life of its own. This living cell would lack form or structure if there is nothing that keeps it intact. Just as our skeleton or the skeletal system of bones along with the muscles provide the physical form of our bodies, cytoskeleton defines the physical form and structure as well as movement of living cells.
Cytoskeleton comprises of intercellular proteins which provide the shape, support the form and facilitate the movement of the living cells. The cytoskeleton also helps with cellular motility. It helps to move the vesicles within a cell. The cytoskeleton has three structural components known as microfilaments, intermediate filaments and microtubules. These form a network of fibrous proteins in a biological cell.
The framework inside the cell composed of actin filaments and microtubules extend throughout the fluid within the cell, which is known as cytosol. The cytoskeleton also helps in the growth of cells, including differentiation and division. All living multi-cellular structures or eukaryotic cells have a cytoskeleton. You could call cytoskeleton the backbone of a living cell.
Without the cytoskeleton, a living cell would not have any form or structure. It would not be a self contained unit with the nucleus or the larger cytoplasm. The cell would fall apart and it would not give birth to larger life, such as a living organism. Humans and all other living species can be reduced to the microscopic cells that also contain genetic information, thus helping in reproduction, growth and evolution. Without the cytoskeleton, none of this would be possible. It is possible that some other kind of living structures would be formed of cells that don’t have a cytoskeleton. Living organisms having a fixed or even a flexible form owe it to these tiny structures ensured by the cytoskeleton.
In a way, the structure and shape as well as the stretch of every bone, muscle, tissue and also the nerves, veins and arteries among others such as blood corpuscles can be broken down to the tiny cytoskeleton in every living cell.
Cytoskeleton is quintessential for the structural integrity, form, function and also the resistance of every living cell. Although the structure doesn’t have any role in evolution of the cell but it provides the foundation of every living cell as it is.