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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the molecular components that make up the cell membrane
  • Explain the major features and properties of the cell membrane
  • Differentiate between materials that can and cannot diffuse through the lipid bilayer
  • Compare and contrast different types of passive transport with active transport, providing examples of each

Despite differences in structure and function, all living cells in multicellular organisms have a surrounding cell membrane. As the outer layer of your skin separates your body from its environment, the cell membrane (also known as the plasma membrane) separates the inner contents of a cell from its exterior environment. This cell membrane provides a protective barrier around the cell and regulates which materials can pass in or out.

Structure and composition of the cell membrane

The cell membrane    is an extremely pliable structure composed primarily of back-to-back phospholipids (a “bilayer”). Cholesterol is also present, which contributes to the fluidity of the membrane, and there are various proteins embedded within the membrane that have a variety of functions.

A single phospholipid molecule has a phosphate group on one end, called the “head,” and two side-by-side chains of fatty acids that make up the lipid tails ( [link] ). The phosphate group is negatively charged, making the head polar and hydrophilic—or “water loving.” A hydrophilic    molecule (or region of a molecule) is one that is attracted to water. The phosphate heads are thus attracted to the water molecules of both the extracellular and intracellular environments. The lipid tails, on the other hand, are uncharged, or nonpolar, and are hydrophobic—or “water fearing.” A hydrophobic    molecule (or region of a molecule) repels and is repelled by water. Some lipid tails consist of saturated fatty acids and some contain unsaturated fatty acids. This combination adds to the fluidity of the tails that are constantly in motion. Phospholipids are thus amphipathic molecules. An amphipathic    molecule is one that contains both a hydrophilic and a hydrophobic region. In fact, soap works to remove oil and grease stains because it has amphipathic properties. The hydrophilic portion can dissolve in water while the hydrophobic portion can trap grease in micelles that then can be washed away.

Phospholipid structure

This diagram shows the structure of a phospholipid. The hydrophilic head group is shown as a pink sphere and the two tails are shown as yellow rectangles.
A phospholipid molecule consists of a polar phosphate “head,” which is hydrophilic and a non-polar lipid “tail,” which is hydrophobic. Unsaturated fatty acids result in kinks in the hydrophobic tails.

The cell membrane consists of two adjacent layers of phospholipids. The lipid tails of one layer face the lipid tails of the other layer, meeting at the interface of the two layers. The phospholipid heads face outward, one layer exposed to the interior of the cell and one layer exposed to the exterior ( [link] ). Because the phosphate groups are polar and hydrophilic, they are attracted to water in the intracellular fluid. Intracellular fluid (ICF) is the fluid interior of the cell. The phosphate groups are also attracted to the extracellular fluid. Extracellular fluid (ECF) is the fluid environment outside the enclosure of the cell membrane. Interstitial fluid (IF) is the term given to extracellular fluid not contained within blood vessels. Because the lipid tails are hydrophobic, they meet in the inner region of the membrane, excluding watery intracellular and extracellular fluid from this space. The cell membrane has many proteins, as well as other lipids (such as cholesterol), that are associated with the phospholipid bilayer. An important feature of the membrane is that it remains fluid; the lipids and proteins in the cell membrane are not rigidly locked in place.

Questions & Answers

what is oesophagus?
Bhavani Reply
What is the meaning of dissection
Beryl Reply
what's the meaning of polar?
Jackson Reply
Sign of anaemia or whitish color or Hgb luck
Kassahn
Are you talking of Polar anaemia or what, because the word polar doesnt have one meaning
Kingsley
what are the three types of adrenocorticoids hormones
Lubega Reply
glucocorticoids mineralocorticoid and catecholamines
Kartik
what is polar and non-polar
Jackson Reply
polar unequal share of electron while non polar is equal share
Quran
why are phosphate molecules negatively charged?
Jackson Reply
Bocz of unpaired elections
Javid
because of unpaired electrons
ABDULLAH
what are amphipathic molecules?
Jackson Reply
Amphipathic molecules are molecules with both polar and non polar regions
Mohammed
How does the male organ develop
MADUBULA Reply
Hw does the male organ develop
MADUBULA
Review your questions madam
Aliyu
what is anaphylaxis?
Rugut Reply
it is an imagency condition resulting from abnormal and immediate alagic response to a substance to which the body has become intensively sensitized
Lubega
different between drug and medicine
ado Reply
drugs have no medical application (cocaine, heroin, crystal meth). medicine have medical purpose (fentanyl, albuterol, aspirin, ect ect)
Jordan
medicine is a substance or preparation used in treating disease,drug is chemical compound medicine are drugs but all drugs are not medicines
Wafa
assalam o alaikum
Sidra
what happen to ECF and ICF regarding to OEDEMA
Zwanga Reply
what are the smooth muscles of the heart
Sintung Reply
stomach
Sidra
identify external features of kidney
saba Reply
kidney weight on males?
saba
and female ?
saba
Sle full name & treatment
Samim
Syplymic lupw erythematous
Samim
blood supply to spleen ?
saba
g..
saba
ya 135 g females
saba
130 on male
saba
130g on male
saba
g samim
saba
no 130grms on male
saba
mbbs
saba
good saba khan
Shahab
Tom kya krti ho st?
saba
your name?
saba
ok
saba
tum kya krti ho? muskan
saba
ok
saba
good muskan
Shahab
ok bye I m studying
saba
Define cranial nerves with oder
Javid
O-olfactory O-optic O-occumulator T-trochlear T-trigemenal A-abducent F-facial A-auditory G-glossopharyngeal V-vagus A-acessory
Aniee
opd mean?
Shahab
out patient department
mahesh
thnxx
Shahab
Ty Aniee singh
Javid
Ap sb us book s parhte h
Areeej
Read KD Tripathi book of Pharmacology.
mayank
Hello
mayank
CT Scan means
Sintung
what's health?
Sintung
hello
Philip
hi
Sintung
CT means - computerized tomography
Vivek
connective tissue
Dee
they link some body organs
Sintung
Difference between drug and medicine
Javid
hiii muskan
saba
what is tomography?
Gideon
tomography ☝
shahid
yes
Gideon
how hemolytic anemia cause due to gas gangrene?
Huma Reply
what's gangrene?
Sidra
why retro abdominal region called or named "flank "?
Huma Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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