Cell Membrane Structure

Cell surface membranes are structures that surround and encapsulate each cell. They separate the cell from its extracellular environment. Membranes can also surround organelles within the cell, such as the nucleus and the Golgi body, to separate it from the cytoplasm. 

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    Frequently Asked Questions about Cell Membrane Structure

    What are the major components of the cell membrane?

    The major components of the cell membrane are phospholipids, membrane proteins (channel proteins and carrier proteins), glycolipids, glycoproteins and cholesterol.

    What is the structure of a cell membrane and what are its functions?

    The cell membrane is a phospholipid bilayer. The hydrophobic heads of the phospholipids face the aqueous environments while the hydrophobic tails form a core away from the aqueous environments. Membrane proteins, glycolipids, glycoproteins and cholesterol are distributed throughout the cell membrane. The cell membrane has three important functions: cell communication, compartmentalisation and regulation of what enters and exits the cell.

    What structures allow small particles to cross cell membranes?

    Membrane proteins allow the passage of small particles across the cell membranes. There are two main types: channel proteins and carrier proteins. Channel proteins provide a hydrophilic channel for the passage of charged and polar particles, like ions and water molecules. Carrier proteins change their shape to allow particles to cross the cell membrane, such as glucose.

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