A cell membrane is a thin layer that acts as a barrier that separates an individual cell or a cellular compartment from other surrounding structures. This dynamic layer plays an essential part in the transport of ions and nutrients.Continue Reading
A cell membrane is a complex structure made of proteins, phospholipids, cholesterol, carbohydrates and several other compounds, all of which are held in place by non-covalent forces. Each cell membrane component serves one or more essential purposes. For example, the proteins act as pumps, gates or receptors, and the lipids create hydrophobic barriers that keep aqueous compartments separate. Cholesterol increases the strength and flexibility of the membrane while also making it less permeable to aqueous compounds.
The transport across cell membranes is an essential cell function, and it depends on the layered membrane structure and the nature of the molecule to be transported. Some molecules, such as oxygen and glucose, are transported through the membrane without requiring any energy, but ions, such as sodium and potassium, are only transported actively, which means that energy is required. The cell membrane is also capable of expelling part of its contents outside through a process called exocytosis or enveloping external molecules through endocytosis. Other functions of the cell membrane include providing shape to the cell by anchoring the cytoskeleton, maintaining the cell potential and sending molecular signals to other cells.Learn more about Cells
An animal cell contains a nucleus, cytoplasm that contains the various organelles and a cell membrane, also called a plasma membrane. The nucleus is the largest of the organelles and governs cell activity. It also contains chromosomes, made up of tiny strands of DNA that replicate when the cell divides.Full Answer >
Amino acids, glucose and other large membrane insoluble compounds move through the cell membrane through a process known as facilitated diffusion. This process involves transmembrane proteins, which open up a small water-filled channel through which the molecules can pass into or out of the cell.Full Answer >
Facilitated diffusion uses carrier proteins to pump substances across the cell membrane that would not normally be able to cross the membrane on their own. These substances include sodium and chloride ions and molecules such as glucose.Full Answer >
A cell membrane protects the structures within the cell. Cell membranes are semipermeable, meaning that only certain objects are able to pass through them. Cell membranes also give shape to the cell and support its structure.Full Answer >