Running throughout the cell and taking up much of its volume, the endoplasmic retic-ulum (ER) is a complex membrane system of tubes and flattened sacs. The presence of numerous ribosomes on their surface gives those parts of the ER involved in protein synthesis a granular appearance when seen under the electron microscope, giving rise to the name rough ER. Areas of the ER not associated with ribosomes are known as smooth ER; this is where the synthesis of membrane lipids takes place. The ER also serves as a communications network, allowing the transport of materials between different parts of the cell.
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