<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
This illustration shows a phospholipid bilayer with proteins and cholesterol embedded in it. Integral membrane proteins span the entire membrane. Protein channels are integral membrane proteins with a central pore through which molecules can pass. Peripheral proteins are associated with the phospholipid head groups on one side of the membrane only. A glycoprotein is shown with the protein portion of the molecule embedded in the membrane and the carbohydrate portion jutting out from the membrane. A glycolipid is also shown with the lipid portion embedded in the membrane and the carbohydrate portion jutting out of the membrane.
The fluid mosaic model of the plasma membrane describes the plasma membrane as a fluid combination of phospholipids, cholesterol, and proteins. Carbohydrates attached to lipids (glycolipids) and to proteins (glycoproteins) extend from the outward-facing surface of the membrane.

The principal components of a plasma membrane are lipids (phospholipids and cholesterol), proteins, and carbohydrates attached to some of the lipids and some of the proteins. A phospholipid is a molecule consisting of glycerol, two fatty acids, and a phosphate-linked head group. Cholesterol, another lipid composed of four fused carbon rings, is found alongside the phospholipids in the core of the membrane. The proportions of proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates in the plasma membrane vary with cell type, but for a typical human cell, protein accounts for about 50 percent of the composition by mass, lipids (of all types) account for about 40 percent of the composition by mass, with the remaining 10 percent of the composition by mass being carbohydrates. However, the concentration of proteins and lipids varies with different cell membranes. For example, myelin, an outgrowth of the membrane of specialized cells that insulates the axons of the peripheral nerves, contains only 18 percent protein and 76 percent lipid. The mitochondrial inner membrane contains 76 percent protein and only 24 percent lipid. The plasma membrane of human red blood cells is 30 percent lipid. Carbohydrates are present only on the exterior surface of the plasma membrane and are attached to proteins, forming glycoproteins , or attached to lipids, forming glycolipids .


The main fabric of the membrane is composed of amphiphilic, phospholipid molecules. The hydrophilic    or “water-loving” areas of these molecules (which look like a collection of balls in an artist’s rendition of the model) ( [link] ) are in contact with the aqueous fluid both inside and outside the cell. Hydrophobic , or water-hating molecules, tend to be non-polar. They interact with other non-polar molecules in chemical reactions, but generally do not interact with polar molecules. When placed in water, hydrophobic molecules tend to form a ball or cluster. The hydrophilic regions of the phospholipids tend to form hydrogen bonds with water and other polar molecules on both the exterior and interior of the cell. Thus, the membrane surfaces that face the interior and exterior of the cell are hydrophilic. In contrast, the interior of the cell membrane is hydrophobic and will not interact with water. Therefore, phospholipids form an excellent two-layer cell membrane that separates fluid within the cell from the fluid outside of the cell.

A phospholipid molecule ( [link] ) consists of a three-carbon glycerol backbone with two fatty acid molecules attached to carbons 1 and 2, and a phosphate-containing group attached to the third carbon. This arrangement gives the overall molecule an area described as its head (the phosphate-containing group), which has a polar character or negative charge, and an area called the tail (the fatty acids), which has no charge. The head can form hydrogen bonds, but the tail cannot. A molecule with this arrangement of a positively or negatively charged area and an uncharged, or non-polar, area is referred to as amphiphilic    or “dual-loving.”

Questions & Answers

how cell I form
Elijah Reply
what difference between animal cell and plant cell
Lazarus Reply
what is animal call
what is fertilization?
Muhamed Reply
What kind of nutrients is composed of plants
Annie Reply
what is hormones
Igwe Reply
hormon is the chemical messanger
Genes can make someone dull?
21ecological instrument and their diagrams
Ayomide Reply
cell biology
I am sorry
for wat
no reason
nothing but speculate
Sorry without reason is nothing but speculate
what are the kidney disease
Immaculate Reply
kidney stones
it is a disease that affects the kidney
what are some lung diseases
what is micro-organism
Jackson Reply
what is the hypothesis
hypothesis is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon
hypothesis is raw materials
what is biology
biology is the study of living things and their interaction with their environment
what is zyogot?
what is fertilization?
zygote is an unfertilized eggs
fertilization refers to the fusion of a sperm and ovum
what does mean stigma
Amira Reply
what is the full of the MOST dangerous disease in the world where one stops sleeping and just dies :Hint ; FFI
God Reply
fatal familial insomnia which affects the thalamus
there are other dangerous diseases like CAD i.e coronary artery disease
what is matter
Thomas Reply
it is any thing that has weight and occupies space
matter is any substances that occupies spaces and has mass
describe photosynthesis
Mavis Reply
What is equilibrium
What is equilibrium
like corporal intern balance right?
on my own understanding is just a balanced state
photosynthesis is the process by which plants and other organisms convert light energy to chemical energy
what is a chromosome?
Wise Reply
Are thread-like structures located inside the nucleus of animal and plant cells.
what are the difference between Biotic community and Ecological nitche.
Ganiyat Reply
what is the celll
A cell is the simplest bit of living matter that exist independently
cell is the basic unit of life
what is ecdysis

Get the best Biology course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11448/1.10
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Biology' conversation and receive update notifications?