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Membrane Structure And Function Biology

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Chapter rubric: Membrane Structure and Function. The “ ability of the cell to know apart in its chemical exchanges with the environment is cardinal to life, and it is the plasma membrane that makes this selectivity possible. ”


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The membranes that are found within cells ( plus the plasma membrane environing cells ) consist of phospholipids ( and other lipoids plus membrane proteins ) arrayed by hydrophobic exclusion into planar fluids known every bit known as lipid bilayers


Phospholipids are amphipathic molecules intending that they have both a hydrophobic and a hydrophilic terminal

Lipid bilayer

Phospholipids can be as bilayers in aqueous solutions

The hydrophobic part of the phospholipid is shielded in center of these bilayers

The hydrophilic part is exposed on both sides to H2O

See Figure 8.1, Artificial membranes ( transverse subdivision )

Note in the followers that A is a hydrocarbon tail of a phospholipid, B is the hydrophilic caput of a phosopholipid, C is one of the aqueous solutions environing the lipid bilayer, and that the large black object represents an built-in membrane protein:

Lipid bilayers are held together chiefly by hydrophobic interactions ( including hydrophobic exclusion )

Fluid mosaic theoretical account

The plasma membrane contains proteins, sugars, and other lipoids in add-on to the phospholipids

The theoretical account that describes the agreement of these substances in and about lipid bilayers is called the fluid mosaic theoretical account

Basically, membrane proteins are suspended within a planar fluid that in bend is made up largely of phospholipids


Cholesterol, a sort of steroid, is an amphipathic lipoid that is found in lipid bilayers that serves as a temperature-stability buffer

At higher temperatures cholesterol serves to hinder phospholipid fluidness

At lower temperatures cholesterol interferes with hardening of membranes ( e.

g. , cholesterin maps likewise, in the latter instance, to the consequence of unsaturated fatty acids on lipid-bilayer fluidness )

Cholesterol is found peculiarly in animate being cell membranes

Membrane proteins

Proteins are typically associated with cell membranes

Integral membrane proteins are typically hydrophobic where they interact with the hydrophobic part of the membrane or hydrophilic where they interact with the hydrophilic part of the membrane and overlying ( and underlying ) HHYPERLINK “ hypertext transfer protocol: //www.mansfield.ohio-state.edu/~sabedon/campbl03.htm ” 2HYPERLINK “ hypertext transfer protocol: //www.mansfield.ohio-state.edu/~sabedon/campbl03.htm ” Oxygen

Functions of membrane proteins

Functions of membrane proteins include:

Conveyance of substances across membranes

Enzymatic activity

cell communicating

Cell-to-cell connection

Attachment to the cytoskeleton and extracellular matrix

Selective permeableness

Lipid bilayers display selective permeableness

In general, integral lipid bilayers are permeable to:

Hydrophobic molecules ( including many gasses )

Small, not-ionized molecules ( e.g. , HHYPERLINK “ hypertext transfer protocol: //www.mansfield.ohio-state.edu/~sabedon/campbl03.htm # chapter_title_water ” 2HYPERLINK “ hypertext transfer protocol: //www.mansfield.ohio-state.edu/~sabedon/campbl03.htm # chapter_title_water ” O, CO2 )

Simultaneously, lipid bilyaers are NOT permeable to:

Larger, polar molecules ( e.g. , sugars )

Ions, irrespective of size

Therefore, lipid bilayers are selectively permeable barriers that allow the entry of little or hydrophobic molecules while barricading the entry of larger polar or even little charged substances

Transport across membranes

motion across membranes is of import, for case as a agency of taking wastes from a cell or conveying nutrient into a cell

Classs of substance conveyance across membranes include:

Passive conveyance

Facilitated diffusion

Active conveyance ( including cotransport )

Endocytosis, phagocytosis, and exocytosis, besides considered below, technically are non mechanisms of motion of substances across lipid bilayers ( though these do represent motions of substances into and out of cells ; to be motion across the euakaryotic cell membrane, a substance must really go through through an endomembrane lipid bilayer )

Note that in sing conveyance across membranes we will one time once more confront the construct of motion off from or towards equilibrium, i.e. , endergonic and exergonic procedures

There are three basic types of motion across membranes: simple diffusion, inactive conveyance, and active conveyance:

Simple diffusion

Simple diffusion is the motion of substances across lipid bilayers without the assistance of membrane proteins

This image ( below ) shows how substances move through membranes, irrespective of net way and concentration gradients:

This image ( below ) shows how substances net move through membranes in the way of their concentrations gradients ( i.e. , with their concentration gradients ) -note that regardless of how net motion is accomplished, all simple diffusion across membranes occurs in the mode illustrated above, i.e. , it is a procedure that is driven by the random motion of molecules:

This figure ( below ) indicates the sorts of molecules that are capable of traveling across membranes via simple diffusion:

Passive conveyance

Passive conveyance is the term used to depict the diffusion ( every bit good as what is termed facilitated diffusion, below ) of substances across lipid bilayers

Passive conveyance is a effect of motion through the lipid bilayer ( whether by diffusion through the membrane or with motion across facilitated by an built-in membrane protein ) withHYPERLINK “ http: //www.mansfield.ohio-state.edu/~sabedon/campbl08.htm # down_the_concentration_gradient # down_the_concentration_gradient ” ( down ) a concentration gradient thereby contrasting with active conveyance

Down the concentration gradient

Diffusion is a random procedure that tends to ensue in the net motion of substances from countries of high concentration to countries of low concentration

This includes motion from one side of a permeable lipid bilayer to the other from the higher concentration side to the lower concentration side ( i.e. , inactive conveyance )

Motion from high to low concentration countries is described as traveling “ down its concentration gradient. ”

The way of motion of substances across lipid bilayers by inactive conveyance is controlled by concentration gradients


Motion of H2O across selectively permeable membranes down the H2O concentration gradient is called osmosis

Note that this is motion toward equilibrium ( exergonic procedure )

Tonicity ( isosmotic, hypertonic, hypotonic )

Picture a membrane dividing two solutions, one side with a higher solute concentration than the other

The side with the higher solute concentration is said to be hypertonic

The side with the lower solute concentration is said to be hypotonic

( I keep path of the difference by remembering that a subcutaneous syringe is so named because the tip of the acerate leaf is placed “ beneath ” the corium, i.e. , under the tegument ; a hypotonic solution has a solute concentration that is beneath, i.e. , lower than that of the mention solution )

If both sides have the same solute concentration, they are said to be isosmotic

Animal cells and tonus

Normally carnal cells are bathed in an isosmotic solution

Placement of an animate being cell in a hypertonic solution causes the cell to shrivel ( i.e. , H2O is lost from the cell by osmosis )

Placement of an animate being cell in a hypotonic solution causes it to take on H2O so burst ( lyse, i.e. , dice ) ( H2O is gained by the cell, lost from the environment bathing the cell, both by osmosis )


Normally a works cell exists in a hypotonic environment

The hypotonicity causes the works cytol to spread out

However the works cell does non lyse and this is due to the presence of its cell wall

This conditions is known as turgidness ( i.e. , the pressure of the works plasma membrane up against its cell wall )

Plant cells prefer to expose turgidness


A works or bacterial cell placed in a hypertonic environment will demo a shrinking of its cytol

This shrinking is called plasmolysis

At the really least plasmolysis will suppress growing

Often plasmolysis will take to cell decease

This is the rule upon which nutrients are preserved in extremely osmotic solutions ( e.g. , salt or sugar ) ; such solutions impede most microbic growing


Plant cells bathed in isosmotic solutions will neglect to expose turgidness

Alternatively they display flabbiness

At a whole-organismal degree, flabbiness is otherwise known as wilting

Conveyance proteins

Substances ( e.g. , sugars ) that are non permeable through lipid bilayers may still traverse via membrane-spanning conveyance proteins

Facilitated diffusion

Facilitated diffusion is the motion of a substance across a membrane via the employment of a conveyance protein, where net motion can merely happen with the concentration gradient, is called facilitated diffusion

The cardinal thing to maintain in head is that facilitated diffusion, in contrast to other mechanisms of transport-protein-mediated membrane crossing, does non necessitate any input of energy beyond that necessary to put the protein in the membrane in the first topographic point ( i.e. , facilitated diffusion is an exergonic procedure )

Passive versus active conveyance

Two general classs of conveyance across membranes exist:

Those that do n’t necessitate an input of energy ( inactive conveyance, simple diffusion, facilitated diffusion )

Those that do necessitate an input of energy ( active conveyance )

Passive Conveyance

Active Conveyance

Concentration gradient

With ( Down )

Against ( Up )

Without Integral Protein

Yes ( Simple Diffusion )


With Integral Protein

Yes ( Facilitated HYPERLINK “ hypertext transfer protocol: //www.mansfield.ohio-state.edu/~sabedon/campbl08.htm # facilitated_diffusion # facilitated_diffusion ” Diffusion )



Small or Hydrophobic Substances, Osmosis ( by simple diffusion ) or Not-Small or Charged Substances ( by facilitated diffusion )

Cotransport, Proton Pump, Sodium-Potassium Pump

Active conveyance

Active conveyance is the motion of substances across membranes against their concentration gradients

Traveling things against their concentration gradients requires an outgo of energy ( i.e. , it is an endergonic procedure )

This energy can be in the signifier of ATP ( e.g. , sodium-potassium pump )

This energy can besides be in the signifier of electrochemical gradients ( i.e. , cotransport )

Note that the motion of substances by active conveyance is in a way that is off from equilibrium

Sodium-potassium pump

One agencies by which cells actively transport substances across membranes is via the sodium-potassium pump

The sodium-potassium pump is of import particularly in carnal cells, and is the agencies by which the sodium-potassium electrochemical gradient is established by these cells

Proton pump

The sodium-potassium pump is the agencies by which carnal cells generate membrane potencies

In bacteriums, workss, and Fungis, proton ( HHYPERLINK “ hypertext transfer protocol: //www.mansfield.ohio-state.edu/~sabedon/campbl08.htm # proton_pump # proton_pump ” +HYPERLINK “ http: //www.mansfield.ohio-state.edu/~sabedon/campbl08.htm # proton_pump # proton_pump ” ) pumps play the same function

The proton pump is merely ATP-driven active conveyance in which the substance pumped across the membrane is a H ion


Much of the active conveyance accomplished by a cell is n’t straight powered by ATP

Alternatively, much active conveyance is powered by membrane potencies ( i.e. , electrochemical gradients )

Such electrochemical-gradient-driven active conveyance is called cotransport

In cotransport, one substance, such as a sugar, is driven up its concentration gradient while a 2nd substance, e.g. , sodium ions or protons, are allowed to fall down their electrochemical gradient ; the energy gained from the latter is employed to power the former ( i.e. , energy yoke )


Endocytosis is a general class of mechanisms that move substances from outside of the cell to inside of the cell, but neither across a membrane ( technically ) nor into the cytol ( once more, technically talking )

Alternatively, substances are moved from exterior of the cell and into the lms of endomembrane system members

To come in the cytol an endocytosed substance must still be moved across the membrane of the endomembrane system, for example, following their digestion ( typically hydrolysis ) to smaller molecules

Examples include: phagocytosis, pinocytosis, and receptor-mediated endocytosis


Phagocytosis is the engulfing of extracellular atoms is achieved by wrapping pseudopodia around the atoms, therefore internalising the atoms into vacuoles

Amoebas employ phagocytosis to “ eat ”

Most Protozoas obtain their nutrient by steeping, i.e. , via some signifier of endocytosis

The advantage of endocytosis as a mechanism of nutrient assemblage has to make with minimising the volume within which digestive enzymes must work in order to digest nutrient, i.e. , the engulfed nutrient atom

Cells in our ain organic structures, called scavenger cells and macrophages employ phagocytosis to steep ( and so destruct ) dust drifting around our organic structures every bit good as to steep and destruct occupying bacteriums


Pinocytosis is the engulfing of liquid environing a cell

This is how underdeveloped ova obtain foods from their environing nurse cells ( ova are really big cells so hold surface-to-volume problems-pinocytosis solves the job of alimentary acquisition by leting foods to be obtained across many internal membranes instead than being limited to traversing the plasma membrane )

Receptor-mediated endocytosis

Receptor-mediated endocytosis involves the binding of extracellular substances to membrane-associated receptors, which in bend induces the formation of a cysts


Exocytosis is more or less the mechanistic antonym of endocytosis

Cite this Membrane Structure And Function Biology

Membrane Structure And Function Biology. (2017, Jul 21). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/membrane-structure-and-function-biology-essay/

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