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The cell membrane (also known as the plasma membrane (PM) or cytoplasmic membrane, and historically referred to as the plasmalemma) is a
biological membrane A biological membrane, biomembrane or cell membrane is a Semipermeable membrane, selectively permeable membrane that separates the interior of a Cell (biology), cell from the extracellular, external environment or creates intracellular compartmen ...
that separates and protects the
interior Interior may refer to: Arts and media * Interior (Degas), ''Interior'' (Degas) (also known as ''The Rape''), painting by Edgar Degas * Interior (play), ''Interior'' (play), 1895 play by Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck * The Interior (novel ...
of all cells from the outside environment (the extracellular space). The cell membrane consists of a
lipid bilayer The lipid bilayer (or phospholipid bilayer) is a thin polar membrane made of two layers of lipid molecules. These membranes are flat sheets that form a continuous barrier around all cell (biology), cells. The cell membranes of almost all organis ...
, made up of two layers of phospholipids with
cholesterol Cholesterol is any of a class of certain organic compound, organic molecules called lipids. It is a sterol (or chemical modification, modified steroid), a type of lipid. Cholesterol is biosynthesis, biosynthesized by all animal Cell (biology)# ...
s (a lipid component) interspersed between them, maintaining appropriate membrane fluidity at various temperatures. The membrane also contains
membrane protein Membrane proteins are common proteins that are part of, or interact with, biological membranes. Membrane proteins fall into several broad categories depending on their location. Integral membrane proteins are a permanent part of a cell membrane ...
s, including integral proteins that span the membrane and serve as membrane transporters, and peripheral proteins that loosely attach to the outer (peripheral) side of the cell membrane, acting as
enzyme Enzymes () are proteins that act as biological catalysts by accelerating chemical reactions. The molecules upon which enzymes may act are called substrate (chemistry), substrates, and the enzyme converts the substrates into different molecule ...
s to facilitate interaction with the cell's environment.
Glycolipids Glycolipids are lipids with a carbohydrate attached by a glycosidic linkage, glycosidic (covalent) bond. Their role is to maintain the stability of the cell membrane and to facilitate Cell (biology), cellular recognition, which is crucial to th ...
embedded in the outer lipid layer serve a similar purpose. The cell membrane controls the movement of substances in and out of cells and organelles, being selectively permeable to ions and organic molecules. In addition, cell membranes are involved in a variety of cellular processes such as
cell adhesion Cell adhesion is the process by which cells interact and attach to neighbouring cells through specialised molecules of the cell surface. This process can occur either through direct contact between cell surfaces such as Cell_junction, cell junc ...
, ion conductivity, and
cell signalling In biology, cell signaling (cell signalling in British English) or cell communication is the ability of a Cell (biology), cell to receive, process, and transmit signals with its environment and with itself. Cell signaling is a fundamental property ...
and serve as the attachment surface for several extracellular structures, including the
cell wall A cell wall is a structural layer surrounding some types of cells, just outside the cell membrane The cell membrane (also known as the plasma membrane (PM) or cytoplasmic membrane, and historically referred to as the plasmalemma) is a biolog ...
and the carbohydrate layer called the
glycocalyx The glycocalyx, also known as the pericellular matrix, is a glycoprotein and glycolipid covering that surrounds the cell membrane The cell membrane (also known as the plasma membrane (PM) or cytoplasmic membrane, and historically referred to ...
, as well as the intracellular network of protein fibers called the
cytoskeleton The cytoskeleton is a complex, dynamic network of interlinking protein filaments present in the cytoplasm of all Cell (biology), cells, including those of bacteria and archaea. In eukaryotes, it extends from the cell nucleus to the cell membrane ...
. In the field of synthetic biology, cell membranes can be artificially reassembled.


History

While
Robert Hooke Robert Hooke Fellow of the Royal Society, FRS (; 18 July 16353 March 1703) was an English polymath active as a scientist, natural philosopher and architect, who is credited to be one of two scientists to discover microorganisms in 1665 using ...
’s discovery of cells in 1665 led to the proposal of the
Cell Theory In biology, cell theory is a scientific theory first formulated in the mid-nineteenth century, that living organisms are made up of Cell (biology), cells, that they are the basic structural/organizational unit of all organisms, and that all cell ...
, Hooke misled the cell membrane theory that all cells contained a hard cell wall since only plant cells could be observed at the time. Microscopists focused on the cell wall for well over 150 years until advances in microscopy were made. In the early 19th century, cells were recognized as being separate entities, unconnected, and bound by individual cell walls after it was found that plant cells could be separated. This theory extended to include animal cells to suggest a universal mechanism for cell protection and development. By the second half of the 19th century, microscopy was still not advanced enough to make a distinction between cell membranes and cell walls. However, some microscopists correctly identified at this time that while invisible, it could be inferred that cell membranes existed in animal cells due to intracellular movement of components internally but not externally and that membranes were not the equivalent of a cell wall to a plant cell. It was also inferred that cell membranes were not vital components to all cells. Many refuted the existence of a cell membrane still towards the end of the 19th century. In 1890, an update to the Cell Theory stated that cell membranes existed, but were merely secondary structures. It was not until later studies with osmosis and permeability that cell membranes gained more recognition. In 1895,
Ernest Overton Charles Ernest Overton (1865–1933) was a British physiologist and biologist, now regarded as a pioneer of the theory of the cell membrane. In the last years of the 19th century Overton did experimental work, allowing the distinction to be drawn ...
proposed that cell membranes were made of lipids. The lipid bilayer hypothesis, proposed in 1925 by Gorter and Grendel, created speculation in the description of the cell membrane bilayer structure based on crystallographic studies and soap bubble observations. In an attempt to accept or reject the hypothesis, researchers measured membrane thickness. These researchers extracted the lipid from human red blood cells and measured the amount of surface area the lipid would cover when spread over the surface of the water. Since mature mammalian
red blood cells Red blood cells (RBCs), also referred to as red cells, red blood corpuscles (in humans or other animals not having nucleus in red blood cells), haematids, erythroid cells or erythrocytes (from Greek language, Greek ''erythros'' for "red" and ''k ...
lack both nuclei and cytoplasmic organelles, the plasma membrane is the only lipid-containing structure in the cell. Consequently, all of the lipids extracted from the cells can be assumed to have resided in the cells’ plasma membranes. The ratio of the surface area of water covered by the extracted lipid to the surface area calculated for the red blood cells from which the lipid was 2:1(approx) and they concluded that the plasma membrane contains a lipid bilayer. In 1925 it was determined by Fricke that the thickness of erythrocyte and yeast cell membranes ranged between 3.3 and 4 nm, a thickness compatible with a lipid monolayer. The choice of the dielectric constant used in these studies was called into question but future tests could not disprove the results of the initial experiment. Independently, the leptoscope was invented in order to measure very thin membranes by comparing the intensity of light reflected from a sample to the intensity of a membrane standard of known thickness. The instrument could resolve thicknesses that depended on pH measurements and the presence of membrane proteins that ranged from 8.6 to 23.2 nm, with the lower measurements supporting the lipid bilayer hypothesis. Later in the 1930s, the membrane structure model developed in general agreement to be the paucimolecular model of Davson and Danielli (1935). This model was based on studies of surface tension between oils and
echinoderm An echinoderm () is any member of the phylum Echinodermata (). The adults are recognisable by their (usually five-point) radial symmetry, and include starfish, brittle stars, sea urchins, sand dollars, and sea cucumbers, as well as the Crinoi ...
eggs. Since the surface tension values appeared to be much lower than would be expected for an oil–water interface, it was assumed that some substance was responsible for lowering the interfacial tensions in the surface of cells. It was suggested that a lipid bilayer was in between two thin protein layers. The paucimolecular model immediately became popular and it dominated cell membrane studies for the following 30 years, until it became rivaled by the fluid mosaic model of
Singer Singing is the act of creating musical sounds with the voice. A person who sings is called a singer, artist or vocalist (in jazz and/or popular music). Singers perform music (arias, recitatives, songs, etc.) that can be sung accompaniment, wi ...
and Nicolson (1972).S J Singer and G L Nicolson."The fluid mosaic model of the structure of cell membranes." Science. (1972) 175. 720-731. Despite the numerous models of the cell membrane proposed prior to the fluid mosaic model, it remains the primary archetype for the cell membrane long after its inception in the 1970s. Although the fluid mosaic model has been modernized to detail contemporary discoveries, the basics have remained constant: the membrane is a lipid bilayer composed of hydrophilic exterior heads and a hydrophobic interior where proteins can interact with hydrophilic heads through polar interactions, but proteins that span the bilayer fully or partially have hydrophobic amino acids that interact with the non-polar lipid interior. The fluid mosaic model not only provided an accurate representation of membrane mechanics, it enhanced the study of hydrophobic forces, which would later develop into an essential descriptive limitation to describe biological
macromolecule A macromolecule is a very large molecule important to biophysical processes, such as a protein or nucleic acid. It is composed of thousands of covalent bond, covalently bonded atoms. Many macromolecules are polymers of smaller molecules called ...
s. For many centuries, the scientists cited disagreed with the significance of the structure they were seeing as the cell membrane. For almost two centuries, the membranes were seen but mostly disregarded as an important structure with cellular function. It was not until the 20th century that the significance of the cell membrane as it was acknowledged. Finally, two scientists Gorter and Grendel (1925) made the discovery that the membrane is “lipid-based”. From this, they furthered the idea that this structure would have to be in a formation that mimicked layers. Once studied further, it was found by comparing the sum of the cell surfaces and the surfaces of the lipids, a 2:1 ratio was estimated; thus, providing the first basis of the bilayer structure known today. This discovery initiated many new studies that arose globally within various fields of scientific studies, confirming that the structure and functions of the cell membrane are widely accepted. The structure has been variously referred to by different writers as the ectoplast ( de Vries, 1885), ''Plasmahaut'' (plasma skin, Pfeffer, 1877, 1891), ''Hautschicht'' (skin layer, Pfeffer, 1886; used with a different meaning by Hofmeister, 1867), plasmatic membrane (Pfeffer, 1900), plasma membrane, cytoplasmic membrane, cell envelope and cell membrane. Some authors who did not believe that there was a functional permeable boundary at the surface of the cell preferred to use the term plasmalemma (coined by Mast, 1924) for the external region of the cell.


Composition

Cell membranes contain a variety of biological molecules, notably lipids and proteins. Composition is not set, but constantly changing for fluidity and changes in the environment, even fluctuating during different stages of cell development. Specifically, the amount of cholesterol in human primary neuron cell membrane changes, and this change in composition affects fluidity throughout development stages. Material is incorporated into the membrane, or deleted from it, by a variety of mechanisms: * Fusion of intracellular
vesicle Vesicle may refer to: ; In cellular biology or chemistry * Vesicle (biology and chemistry), a supramolecular assembly of lipid molecules, like a cell membrane * Synaptic vesicle ; In human embryology * Vesicle (embryology), bulge-like features o ...
s with the membrane (
exocytosis Exocytosis () is a form of active transport and solvent drag, bulk transport in which a cell transports molecules (e.g., neurotransmitters and proteins) out of the cell (''wikt:ex-#Prefix, exo-'' + ''cytosis''). As an active transport mechanism, ...
) not only excretes the contents of the vesicle but also incorporates the vesicle membrane's components into the cell membrane. The membrane may form blebs around extracellular material that pinch off to become vesicles (
endocytosis Endocytosis is a cellular process in which substances are brought into the cell. The material to be internalized is surrounded by an area of cell membrane The cell membrane (also known as the plasma membrane (PM) or cytoplasmic membrane, an ...
). * If a membrane is continuous with a tubular structure made of membrane material, then material from the tube can be drawn into the membrane continuously. * Although the concentration of membrane components in the aqueous phase is low (stable membrane components have low solubility in water), there is an exchange of molecules between the lipid and aqueous phases.


Lipids

The cell membrane consists of three classes of
amphipathic An amphiphile (from the Greek αμφις amphis, both, and φιλíα philia, love, friendship), or amphipath, is a chemical compound possessing both hydrophilic (''water-loving'', polar) and lipophilic (''fat-loving'') properties. Such a compoun ...
lipids:
phospholipid Phospholipids, are a class of lipids whose molecule has a hydrophile, hydrophilic "head" containing a phosphate group and two hydrophobic "tails" derived from fatty acids, joined by an Alcohol (chemistry), alcohol residue (usually a glycerol mol ...
s,
glycolipid Glycolipids are lipids with a carbohydrate attached by a glycosidic linkage, glycosidic (covalent) bond. Their role is to maintain the stability of the cell membrane and to facilitate Cell (biology), cellular recognition, which is crucial to th ...
s, and
sterol Sterol is an organic compound with formula , whose molecule is derived from that of gonane by replacement of a hydrogen atom in position 3 by a hydroxyl group. It is therefore an alcohol (chemistry), alcohol of gonane. More generally, any compounds ...
s. The amount of each depends upon the type of cell, but in the majority of cases phospholipids are the most abundant, often contributing for over 50% of all lipids in plasma membranes. Glycolipids only account for a minute amount of about 2% and sterols make up the rest. In
red blood cell Red blood cells (RBCs), also referred to as red cells, red blood corpuscles (in humans or other animals not having nucleus in red blood cells), haematids, erythroid cells or erythrocytes (from Greek language, Greek ''erythros'' for "red" and ''k ...
studies, 30% of the plasma membrane is lipid. However, for the majority of eukaryotic cells, the composition of plasma membranes is about half lipids and half proteins by weight. The fatty chains in
phospholipid Phospholipids, are a class of lipids whose molecule has a hydrophile, hydrophilic "head" containing a phosphate group and two hydrophobic "tails" derived from fatty acids, joined by an Alcohol (chemistry), alcohol residue (usually a glycerol mol ...
s and
glycolipid Glycolipids are lipids with a carbohydrate attached by a glycosidic linkage, glycosidic (covalent) bond. Their role is to maintain the stability of the cell membrane and to facilitate Cell (biology), cellular recognition, which is crucial to th ...
s usually contain an even number of carbon atoms, typically between 16 and 20. The 16- and 18-carbon fatty acids are the most common. Fatty acids may be saturated or unsaturated, with the configuration of the double bonds nearly always "cis". The length and the degree of unsaturation of fatty acid chains have a profound effect on membrane fluidity as unsaturated lipids create a kink, preventing the fatty acids from packing together as tightly, thus decreasing the melting temperature (increasing the fluidity) of the membrane. The ability of some organisms to regulate the fluidity of their cell membranes by altering lipid composition is called homeoviscous adaptation. The entire membrane is held together via
non-covalent In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the elements that make up matter to the compounds made of atoms, molecules and ions: their composition, struct ...
interaction of hydrophobic tails, however the structure is quite fluid and not fixed rigidly in place. Under physiological conditions phospholipid molecules in the cell membrane are in the liquid crystalline state. It means the lipid molecules are free to diffuse and exhibit rapid lateral diffusion along the layer in which they are present. However, the exchange of phospholipid molecules between intracellular and extracellular leaflets of the bilayer is a very slow process. Lipid rafts and caveolae are examples of
cholesterol Cholesterol is any of a class of certain organic compound, organic molecules called lipids. It is a sterol (or chemical modification, modified steroid), a type of lipid. Cholesterol is biosynthesis, biosynthesized by all animal Cell (biology)# ...
-enriched microdomains in the cell membrane. Also, a fraction of the lipid in direct contact with integral membrane proteins, which is tightly bound to the protein surface is called
annular lipid shell Annular lipids (also called shell lipids or boundary lipids) are a set of lipids or lipidic molecules which preferentially bind or stick to the surface of membrane proteins in biological cells. They constitute a layer, or an annulus/ shell, of lipid ...
; it behaves as a part of protein complex. In animal cells cholesterol is normally found dispersed in varying degrees throughout cell membranes, in the irregular spaces between the hydrophobic tails of the membrane lipids, where it confers a stiffening and strengthening effect on the membrane. Additionally, the amount of cholesterol in biological membranes varies between organisms, cell types, and even in individual cells. Cholesterol, a major component of animal plasma membranes, regulates the fluidity of the overall membrane, meaning that cholesterol controls the amount of movement of the various cell membrane components based on its concentrations. In high temperatures, cholesterol inhibits the movement of phospholipid fatty acid chains, causing a reduced permeability to small molecules and reduced membrane fluidity. The opposite is true for the role of cholesterol in cooler temperatures. Cholesterol production, and thus concentration, is up-regulated (increased) in response to cold temperature. At cold temperatures, cholesterol interferes with fatty acid chain interactions. Acting as antifreeze, cholesterol maintains the fluidity of the membrane. Cholesterol is more abundant in cold-weather animals than warm-weather animals. In plants, which lack cholesterol, related compounds called sterols perform the same function as cholesterol.


Phospholipids forming lipid vesicles

Lipid vesicles or
liposome A liposome is a small artificial Vesicle (biology and chemistry), vesicle, spherical in shape, having at least one lipid bilayer. Due to their hydrophobicity and/or hydrophilicity, biocompatibility, particle size and many other properties, lipo ...
s are approximately spherical pockets that are enclosed by a lipid bilayer. These structures are used in laboratories to study the effects of chemicals in cells by delivering these chemicals directly to the cell, as well as getting more insight into cell membrane permeability. Lipid vesicles and liposomes are formed by first suspending a lipid in an aqueous solution then agitating the mixture through
sonication image:Sonicator.jpg, A sonicator at the Weizmann Institute of Science during sonicationSonication is the act of applying sound energy to agitate particles in a sample, for various purposes such as the extraction of multiple compounds from plants, m ...
, resulting in a vesicle. By measuring the rate of efflux from that of the inside of the vesicle to the ambient solution, allows researcher to better understand membrane permeability. Vesicles can be formed with molecules and ions inside the vesicle by forming the vesicle with the desired molecule or ion present in the solution. Proteins can also be embedded into the membrane through solubilizing the desired proteins in the presence of detergents and attaching them to the phospholipids in which the liposome is formed. These provide researchers with a tool to examine various membrane protein functions.


Carbohydrates

Plasma membranes also contain
carbohydrates In organic chemistry, a carbohydrate () is a biomolecule consisting of carbon (C), hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O) atoms, usually with a hydrogen–oxygen atom ratio of 2:1 (as in water) and thus with the empirical formula (where ''m'' may or may ...
, predominantly
glycoprotein Glycoproteins are proteins which contain oligosaccharide chains Covalent bond, covalently attached to amino acid side-chains. The carbohydrate is attached to the protein in a translation (genetics), cotranslational or posttranslational modifica ...
s, but with some glycolipids ( cerebrosides and
ganglioside A ganglioside is a molecule composed of a glycosphingolipid (ceramide and oligosaccharide) with one or more sialic acids (e.g. N-acetylneuraminic acid, ''N''-acetylneuraminic acid, NANA) linked on the sugar chain. NeuNAc, an acetylated derivative ...
s). Carbohydrates are important in the role of cell-cell recognition in eukaryotes; they are located on the surface of the cell where they recognize host cells and share information, viruses that bind to cells using these receptors cause an infection For the most part, no
glycosylation Glycosylation is the reaction in which a carbohydrate (or 'glycan'), i.e. a glycosyl donor, is attached to a hydroxyl or other functional group of another molecule (a glycosyl acceptor) in order to form a glycoconjugate. In biology (but not alw ...
occurs on membranes within the cell; rather generally glycosylation occurs on the extracellular surface of the plasma membrane. The
glycocalyx The glycocalyx, also known as the pericellular matrix, is a glycoprotein and glycolipid covering that surrounds the cell membrane The cell membrane (also known as the plasma membrane (PM) or cytoplasmic membrane, and historically referred to ...
is an important feature in all cells, especially
epithelia Epithelium or epithelial tissue is one of the four basic types of animal Tissue (biology), tissue, along with connective tissue, muscle tissue and nervous tissue. It is a thin, continuous, protective layer of compactly packed Cell (biology), ...
with microvilli. Recent data suggest the glycocalyx participates in cell adhesion, lymphocyte homing, and many others. The
penultimate Penult is a linguistics term for the second to last syllable of a word. It is an abbreviation of ''penultimate'', which describes the next-to-last item in a series. The penult follows the antepenult and precedes the ultima (linguistics), ultima. ...
sugar is
galactose Galactose (, '' galacto-'' + '' -ose'', "milk sugar"), sometimes abbreviated Gal, is a monosaccharide Monosaccharides (from Greek language, Greek ''wikt:μόνος, monos'': single, ''wikt:σάκχαρ, sacchar'': sugar), also called simple ...
and the terminal sugar is
sialic acid Sialic acids are a class of alpha-keto acid sugars Sugar is the generic name for Sweetness, sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates, many of which are used in food. Simple sugars, also called monosaccharides, include glucose, fructose, and gala ...
, as the sugar backbone is modified in the
Golgi apparatus The Golgi apparatus (), also known as the Golgi complex, Golgi body, or simply the Golgi, is an organelle found in most eukaryotic Cell (biology), cells. Part of the endomembrane system in the cytoplasm, it protein targeting, packages proteins ...
. Sialic acid carries a negative charge, providing an external barrier to charged particles.


Proteins

The cell membrane has large content of proteins, typically around 50% of membrane volume These proteins are important for the cell because they are responsible for various biological activities. Approximately a third of the
gene In biology, the word gene (from , ; "...Wilhelm Johannsen coined the word gene to describe the Mendelian inheritance#History, Mendelian units of heredity..." meaning ''generation'' or ''birth'' or ''gender'') can have several different meanin ...
s in
yeast Yeasts are eukaryotic, single-celled microorganisms classified as members of the fungus kingdom (biology), kingdom. The first yeast originated hundreds of millions of years ago, and at least 1,500 species are currently recognized. They are est ...
code specifically for them, and this number is even higher in multicellular organisms.
Membrane protein Membrane proteins are common proteins that are part of, or interact with, biological membranes. Membrane proteins fall into several broad categories depending on their location. Integral membrane proteins are a permanent part of a cell membrane ...

Membrane protein
s consist of three main types: integral proteins, peripheral proteins, and lipid-anchored proteins. As shown in the adjacent table, integral proteins are amphipathic transmembrane proteins. Examples of integral proteins include ion channels, proton pumps, and g-protein coupled receptors. Ion channels allow inorganic ions such as sodium, potassium, calcium, or chlorine to diffuse down their electrochemical gradient across the lipid bilayer through hydrophilic pores across the membrane. The electrical behavior of cells (i.e. nerve cells) are controlled by ion channels. Proton pumps are protein pumps that are embedded in the lipid bilayer that allow protons to travel through the membrane by transferring from one amino acid side chain to another. Processes such as electron transport and generating ATP use proton pumps. A G-protein coupled receptor is a single polypeptide chain that crosses the lipid bilayer seven times responding to signal molecules (i.e. hormones and neurotransmitters). G-protein coupled receptors are used in processes such as cell to cell signaling, the regulation of the production of cAMP, and the regulation of ion channels. The cell membrane, being exposed to the outside environment, is an important site of cell–cell communication. As such, a large variety of protein receptors and identification proteins, such as
antigen In immunology, an antigen (Ag) is a molecule A molecule is a group of two or more atoms held together by attractive forces known as chemical bonds; depending on context, the term may or may not include ions which satisfy this criterion. ...
s, are present on the surface of the membrane. Functions of membrane proteins can also include cell–cell contact, surface recognition, cytoskeleton contact, signaling, enzymatic activity, or transporting substances across the membrane. Most membrane proteins must be inserted in some way into the membrane. For this to occur, an N-terminus "signal sequence" of amino acids directs proteins to the
endoplasmic reticulum The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is, in essence, the transportation system of the eukaryotic cell, and has many other important functions such as protein folding. It is a type of organelle made up of two subunits – rough endoplasmic reticulum ...
, which inserts the proteins into a lipid bilayer. Once inserted, the proteins are then transported to their final destination in vesicles, where the vesicle fuses with the target membrane.


Function

The cell membrane surrounds the
cytoplasm In cell biology, the cytoplasm is all of the material within a eukaryote, eukaryotic Cell (biology), cell, enclosed by the cell membrane, except for the cell nucleus. The material inside the nucleus and contained within the nuclear envelope, nuc ...
of living cells, physically separating the
intracellular This glossary of biology terms is a list of definitions of fundamental terms and concepts used in biology, the study of life and of living organisms. It is intended as introductory material for novices; for more specific and technical definitions ...
components from the
extracellular This glossary of biology terms is a list of definitions of fundamental terms and concepts used in biology, the study of life and of living organisms. It is intended as introductory material for novices; for more specific and technical definitions ...
environment. The cell membrane also plays a role in anchoring the
cytoskeleton The cytoskeleton is a complex, dynamic network of interlinking protein filaments present in the cytoplasm of all Cell (biology), cells, including those of bacteria and archaea. In eukaryotes, it extends from the cell nucleus to the cell membrane ...
to provide shape to the cell, and in attaching to the
extracellular matrix In biology Biology is the scientific study of life. It is a natural science with a broad scope but has several unifying themes that tie it together as a single, coherent field. For instance, all organisms are made up of Cell (biology), cel ...

extracellular matrix
and other cells to hold them together to form tissues.
Fungi A fungus (plural, : fungi or funguses) is any member of the group of Eukaryote, eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and Mold (fungus), molds, as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified ...

Fungi
,
bacteria Bacteria (; singular: bacterium) are ubiquitous, mostly free-living organisms often consisting of one biological cell. They constitute a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometre The micrometre (Amer ...

bacteria
, most
archaea Archaea ( ; singular archaeon ) is a Domain (biology), domain of Unicellular organism, single-celled organisms. These microorganisms lack cell nuclei and are therefore prokaryotes. Archaea were initially Taxonomy (biology), classified as bacter ...

archaea
, and
plant Plants are predominantly Photosynthesis, photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Plantae. Historically, the plant kingdom encompassed all living things that were not animals, and included algae and fungi; however, all curr ...

plant
s also have a
cell wall A cell wall is a structural layer surrounding some types of cells, just outside the cell membrane The cell membrane (also known as the plasma membrane (PM) or cytoplasmic membrane, and historically referred to as the plasmalemma) is a biolog ...
, which provides a mechanical support to the cell and precludes the passage of larger molecules. The cell membrane is and able to regulate what enters and exits the cell, thus facilitating the
transport Transport (in British English), or transportation (in American English), is the intentional Motion, movement of humans, animals, and cargo, goods from one location to another. Mode of transport, Modes of transport include aviation, air, land ...
of materials needed for survival. The movement of substances across the membrane can be achieved by either
passive transport Passive transport is a type of membrane transport that does not require Energy (biology), energy to move substances across Cell membrane, cell membranes. Instead of using Bioenergetics, cellular energy, like active transport, passive transport re ...
, occurring without the input of cellular energy, or by
active transport In Cellular Biology, cellular biology, ''active transport'' is the movement of molecules or ions across a cell membrane Second law of thermodynamics, from a region of lower concentration to a region of higher concentration—against the concentra ...

active transport
, requiring the cell to expend energy in transporting it. The membrane also maintains the . The cell membrane thus works as a selective filter that allows only certain things to come inside or go outside the cell. The cell employs a number of transport mechanisms that involve biological membranes: 1. Passive
osmosis Osmosis (, ) is the spontaneous net movement or diffusion of solvent molecules through a selectively permeable membrane, selectively-permeable membrane from a region of high water potential (region of lower solute concentration) to a region of ...

osmosis
and
diffusion Diffusion is the net movement of anything (for example, atoms, ions, molecules, energy) generally from a region of higher concentration to a region of lower concentration. Diffusion is driven by a gradient in Gibbs free energy or chemical p ...

diffusion
: Some substances (small molecules, ions) such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and oxygen (O2), can move across the plasma membrane by diffusion, which is a passive transport process. Because the membrane acts as a barrier for certain molecules and ions, they can occur in different concentrations on the two sides of the membrane. Diffusion occurs when small molecules and ions move freely from high concentration to low concentration in order to equilibrate the membrane. It is considered a passive transport process because it does not require energy and is propelled by the concentration gradient created by each side of the membrane. Such a concentration gradient across a semipermeable membrane sets up an for the water. Osmosis, in biological systems involves a solvent, moving through a semipermeable membrane similarly to passive diffusion as the solvent still moves with the concentration gradient and requires no energy. While water is the most common solvent in cell, it can also be other liquids as well as supercritical liquids and gases. 2. and transporters: Transmembrane proteins extend through the lipid bilayer of the membranes; they function on both sides of the membrane to transport molecules across it. Nutrients, such as sugars or amino acids, must enter the cell, and certain products of metabolism must leave the cell. Such molecules can diffuse passively through protein channels such as aquaporins in
facilitated diffusion Facilitated diffusion (also known as facilitated transport or passive-mediated transport) is the process of spontaneous passive transport Passive transport is a type of membrane transport that does not require Energy (biology), energy to move ...

facilitated diffusion
or are pumped across the membrane by transmembrane transporters. Protein channel proteins, also called ''permeases'', are usually quite specific, and they only recognize and transport a limited variety of chemical substances, often limited to a single substance. Another example of a transmembrane protein is a cell-surface receptor, which allow cell signaling molecules to communicate between cells. 3.
Endocytosis Endocytosis is a cellular process in which substances are brought into the cell. The material to be internalized is surrounded by an area of cell membrane The cell membrane (also known as the plasma membrane (PM) or cytoplasmic membrane, an ...

Endocytosis
: Endocytosis is the process in which cells absorb molecules by engulfing them. The plasma membrane creates a small deformation inward, called an invagination, in which the substance to be transported is captured. This invagination is caused by proteins on the outside on the cell membrane, acting as receptors and clustering into depressions that eventually promote accumulation of more proteins and lipids on the cytosolic side of the membrane. The deformation then pinches off from the membrane on the inside of the cell, creating a vesicle containing the captured substance. Endocytosis is a pathway for internalizing solid particles ("cell eating" or phagocytosis), small molecules and ions ("cell drinking" or pinocytosis), and macromolecules. Endocytosis requires energy and is thus a form of active transport. 4. Exocytosis: Just as material can be brought into the cell by invagination and formation of a vesicle, the membrane of a vesicle can be fused with the plasma membrane, extruding its contents to the surrounding medium. This is the process of exocytosis. Exocytosis occurs in various cells to remove undigested residues of substances brought in by endocytosis, to secrete substances such as hormones and enzymes, and to transport a substance completely across a cellular barrier. In the process of exocytosis, the undigested waste-containing food vacuole or the secretory vesicle budded from
Golgi apparatus The Golgi apparatus (), also known as the Golgi complex, Golgi body, or simply the Golgi, is an organelle found in most eukaryotic Cell (biology), cells. Part of the endomembrane system in the cytoplasm, it protein targeting, packages proteins ...
, is first moved by cytoskeleton from the interior of the cell to the surface. The vesicle membrane comes in contact with the plasma membrane. The lipid molecules of the two bilayers rearrange themselves and the two membranes are, thus, fused. A passage is formed in the fused membrane and the vesicles discharges its contents outside the cell.


Prokaryotes

Prokaryotes are divided into two different groups, Archaea and Bacteria, with bacteria dividing further into Gram-positive bacteria, gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, gram-negative. Gram-negative bacteria have both a plasma membrane and an bacterial outer membrane, outer membrane separated by periplasm, however, other prokaryotes have only a plasma membrane. These two membranes differ in many aspects. The outer membrane of the gram-negative bacteria differ from other prokaryotes due to
phospholipid Phospholipids, are a class of lipids whose molecule has a hydrophile, hydrophilic "head" containing a phosphate group and two hydrophobic "tails" derived from fatty acids, joined by an Alcohol (chemistry), alcohol residue (usually a glycerol mol ...
s forming the exterior of the bilayer, and lipoproteins and phospholipids forming the interior. The outer membrane typically has a porous quality due to its presence of membrane proteins, such as gram-negative porins, which are pore-forming proteins. The inner, plasma membrane is also generally symmetric whereas the outer membrane is asymmetric because of proteins such as the aforementioned. Also, for the prokaryotic membranes, there are multiple things that can affect the fluidity. One of the major factors that can affect the fluidity is fatty acid composition. For example, when the bacteria ''Staphylococcus aureus'' was grown in 37C for 24h, the membrane exhibited a more fluid state instead of a gel-like state. This supports the concept that in higher temperatures, the membrane is more fluid than in colder temperatures. When the membrane is becoming more fluid and needs to become more stabilized, it will make longer fatty acid chains or saturated fatty acid chains in order to help stabilize the membrane. Bacteria are also surrounded by a
cell wall A cell wall is a structural layer surrounding some types of cells, just outside the cell membrane The cell membrane (also known as the plasma membrane (PM) or cytoplasmic membrane, and historically referred to as the plasmalemma) is a biolog ...
composed of peptidoglycan (amino acids and sugars). Some eukaryotic cells also have cell walls, but none that are made of peptidoglycan. The outer membrane of gram negative bacteria is rich in lipopolysaccharides, which are combined poly- or oligosaccharide and carbohydrate lipid regions that stimulate the cell's natural immunity. The outer membrane can Bleb (cell biology), bleb out into periplasmic protrusions under stress conditions or upon virulence requirements while encountering a host target cell, and thus such blebs may work as virulence organelles. Bacterial cells provide numerous examples of the diverse ways in which prokaryotic cell membranes are adapted with structures that suit the organism's niche. For example, proteins on the surface of certain bacterial cells aid in their gliding motion. Many gram-negative bacteria have cell membranes which contain ATP-driven protein exporting systems.


Structures


Fluid mosaic model

According to the fluid mosaic model of Seymour Jonathan Singer, S. J. Singer and Garth L. Nicolson, G. L. Nicolson (1972), which replaced the earlier Davson-Danielli model, model of Davson and Danielli, biological membranes can be considered as a two-dimensional liquid in which lipid and protein molecules diffuse more or less easily. Although the lipid bilayers that form the basis of the membranes do indeed form two-dimensional liquids by themselves, the plasma membrane also contains a large quantity of proteins, which provide more structure. Examples of such structures are protein-protein complexes, pickets and fences formed by the actin-based
cytoskeleton The cytoskeleton is a complex, dynamic network of interlinking protein filaments present in the cytoplasm of all Cell (biology), cells, including those of bacteria and archaea. In eukaryotes, it extends from the cell nucleus to the cell membrane ...
, and potentially lipid rafts.


Lipid bilayer

Lipid bilayers form through the process of self-assembly. The cell membrane consists primarily of a thin layer of
amphipathic An amphiphile (from the Greek αμφις amphis, both, and φιλíα philia, love, friendship), or amphipath, is a chemical compound possessing both hydrophilic (''water-loving'', polar) and lipophilic (''fat-loving'') properties. Such a compoun ...
phospholipids that spontaneously arrange so that the hydrophobic "tail" regions are isolated from the surrounding water while the hydrophilic "head" regions interact with the intracellular (cytosolic) and extracellular faces of the resulting bilayer. This forms a continuous, spherical
lipid bilayer The lipid bilayer (or phospholipid bilayer) is a thin polar membrane made of two layers of lipid molecules. These membranes are flat sheets that form a continuous barrier around all cell (biology), cells. The cell membranes of almost all organis ...
. Hydrophobic interactions (also known as the hydrophobic effect) are the major driving forces in the formation of lipid bilayers. An increase in interactions between hydrophobic molecules (causing clustering of hydrophobic regions) allows water molecules to bond more freely with each other, increasing the entropy of the system. This complex interaction can include noncovalent interactions such as Van der Waals force, van der Waals, electrostatic and hydrogen bonds. Lipid bilayers are generally impermeable to ions and polar molecules. The arrangement of hydrophilic heads and hydrophobic tails of the lipid bilayer prevent polar solutes (ex. amino acids, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, proteins, and ions) from diffusing across the membrane, but generally allows for the passive diffusion of hydrophobic molecules. This affords the cell the ability to control the movement of these substances via transmembrane protein complexes such as pores, channels and gates. Flippases and scramblases concentrate phosphatidyl serine, which carries a negative charge, on the inner membrane. Along with sialic acid, NANA, this creates an extra barrier to charged Moiety (chemistry), moieties moving through the membrane. Membranes serve diverse functions in eukaryote, eukaryotic and Prokaryote, prokaryotic cells. One important role is to regulate the movement of materials into and out of cells. The phospholipid bilayer structure (fluid mosaic model) with specific membrane proteins accounts for the selective permeability of the membrane and passive and active transport mechanisms. In addition, membranes in prokaryotes and in the mitochondria and chloroplasts of eukaryotes facilitate the synthesis of ATP through chemiosmosis.


Membrane polarity

The apical membrane of a polarized cell is the surface of the plasma membrane that faces inward to the lumen (anatomy), lumen. This is particularly evident in epithelial cell, epithelial and endothelial cells, but also describes other polarized cells, such as neurons. The Epithelial polarity#Basolateral membranes, basolateral membrane of a polarized cell is the surface of the plasma membrane that forms its basal and lateral surfaces. It faces outwards, towards the interstitium, and away from the lumen. Basolateral membrane is a compound phrase referring to the terms "basal (base) membrane" and "lateral (side) membrane", which, especially in epithelial cells, are identical in composition and activity. Proteins (such as ion channels and Ion pump (biology), pumps) are free to move from the basal to the lateral surface of the cell or vice versa in accordance with the fluid mosaic model. Tight junctions join epithelial cells near their apical surface to prevent the migration of proteins from the basolateral membrane to the apical membrane. The basal and lateral surfaces thus remain roughly equivalent to one another, yet distinct from the apical surface.


Membrane structures

Cell membrane can form different types of "supramembrane" structures such as caveola, postsynaptic density, podosome, invadopodium, focal adhesion, and different types of cell junctions. These structures are usually responsible for
cell adhesion Cell adhesion is the process by which cells interact and attach to neighbouring cells through specialised molecules of the cell surface. This process can occur either through direct contact between cell surfaces such as Cell_junction, cell junc ...
, communication,
endocytosis Endocytosis is a cellular process in which substances are brought into the cell. The material to be internalized is surrounded by an area of cell membrane The cell membrane (also known as the plasma membrane (PM) or cytoplasmic membrane, an ...
and
exocytosis Exocytosis () is a form of active transport and solvent drag, bulk transport in which a cell transports molecules (e.g., neurotransmitters and proteins) out of the cell (''wikt:ex-#Prefix, exo-'' + ''cytosis''). As an active transport mechanism, ...
. They can be visualized by electron microscopy or fluorescence microscopy. They are composed of specific proteins, such as integrins and cadherins.


Cytoskeleton

The
cytoskeleton The cytoskeleton is a complex, dynamic network of interlinking protein filaments present in the cytoplasm of all Cell (biology), cells, including those of bacteria and archaea. In eukaryotes, it extends from the cell nucleus to the cell membrane ...
is found underlying the cell membrane in the cytoplasm and provides a scaffolding for membrane proteins to anchor to, as well as forming organelles that extend from the cell. Indeed, cytoskeletal elements interact extensively and intimately with the cell membrane. Anchoring proteins restricts them to a particular cell surface — for example, the apical surface of epithelial cells that line the vertebrate gastrointestinal tract, gut — and limits how far they may diffuse within the bilayer. The cytoskeleton is able to form appendage-like organelles, such as cilia, which are microtubule-based extensions covered by the cell membrane, and filopodia, which are actin-based extensions. These extensions are ensheathed in membrane and project from the surface of the cell in order to sense the external environment and/or make contact with the substrate or other cells. The apical surfaces of epithelial cells are dense with actin-based finger-like projections known as microvilli, which increase cell surface area and thereby increase the absorption rate of nutrients. Localized decoupling of the cytoskeleton and cell membrane results in formation of a bleb (cell biology), bleb.


Intracellular membranes

The content of the cell, inside the cell membrane, is composed of numerous membrane-bound organelles, which contribute to the overall function of the cell. The origin, structure, and function of each organelle leads to a large variation in the cell composition due to the individual uniqueness associated with each organelle. * Mitochondria and chloroplasts are considered to have evolved from bacteria, known as the Symbiogenesis, endosymbiotic theory. This theory arose from the idea that ''Paracoccus'' and ''Rhodopseudomonas'', types of bacteria, share similar functions to mitochondria and blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, share similar functions to chloroplasts. The Symbiogenesis, endosymbiotic theory proposes that through the course of evolution, a eukaryotic cell engulfed these 2 types of bacteria, leading to the formation of mitochondria and chloroplasts inside eukaryotic cells. This engulfment lead to the 2 membranes systems of these organelles in which the outer membrane originated from the host's plasma membrane and the inner membrane was the endosymbiont's plasma membrane. Considering that mitochondria and chloroplasts both contain their own DNA is further support that both of these organelles evolved from engulfed bacteria that thrived inside a eukaryotic cell. * In eukaryotic cells, the nuclear membrane separates the contents of the nucleus from the cytoplasm of the cell. The nuclear membrane is formed by an inner and outer membrane, providing the strict regulation of materials in to and out of the nucleus. Materials move between the cytosol and the nucleus through nuclear pores in the nuclear membrane. If a cell's nucleus is more active in transcription (biology), transcription, its membrane will have more pores. The protein composition of the nucleus can vary greatly from the cytosol as many proteins are unable to cross through pores via diffusion. Within the nuclear membrane, the inner and outer membranes vary in protein composition, and only the outer membrane is continuous with the
endoplasmic reticulum The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is, in essence, the transportation system of the eukaryotic cell, and has many other important functions such as protein folding. It is a type of organelle made up of two subunits – rough endoplasmic reticulum ...
(ER) membrane. Like the ER, the outer membrane also possesses ribosomes responsible for producing and transporting proteins into the space between the two membranes. The nuclear membrane disassembles during the early stages of mitosis and reassembles in later stages of mitosis. * The ER, which is part of the endomembrane system, which makes up a very large portion of the cell's total membrane content. The ER is an enclosed network of tubules and sacs, and its main functions include protein synthesis, and lipid metabolism. There are 2 types of ER, smooth and rough. The rough ER has ribosomes attached to it used for protein synthesis, while the smooth ER is used more for the processing of toxins and calcium regulation in the cell. * The
Golgi apparatus The Golgi apparatus (), also known as the Golgi complex, Golgi body, or simply the Golgi, is an organelle found in most eukaryotic Cell (biology), cells. Part of the endomembrane system in the cytoplasm, it protein targeting, packages proteins ...
has two interconnected round Golgi cisternae. Compartments of the apparatus forms multiple tubular-reticular networks responsible for organization, stack connection and cargo transport that display a continuous grape-like stringed vesicles ranging from 50-60 nm. The apparatus consists of three main compartments, a flat disc-shaped cisterna with tubular-reticular networks and vesicles.


Variations

The cell membrane has different lipid and protein compositions in distinct list of distinct cell types in the adult human body, types of cells and may have therefore specific names for certain cell types. * Sarcolemma in muscle cells: Sarcolemma is the name given to the cell membrane of muscle cells. Although the sarcolemma is similar to other cell membranes, it has other functions that set it apart. For instance, the sarcolemma transmits synaptic signals, helps generate action potentials, and is very involved in muscle contraction. Unlike other cell membranes, the sarcolemma makes up small channels called T-tubules that pass through the entirety of muscle cells. It has also been found that the average sarcolemma is 10 nm thick as opposed to the 4 nm thickness of a general cell membrane. * Oolemma is the cell membrane in oocytes: The oolemma of oocytes, (immature egg cells) are not consistent with a lipid bilayer as they lack a bilayer and do not consist of lipids. Rather, the structure has an inner layer, the fertilization envelope, and the exterior is made up of the vitelline layer, which is made up of glycoproteins; however, channels and proteins are still present for their functions in the membrane. * Axolemma: The specialized plasma membrane on the axons of nerve cells that is responsible for the generation of the action potential. It consists of a granular, densely packed lipid bilayer that works closely with the cytoskeleton components spectrin and actin. These cytoskeleton components are able to bind to and interact with transmembrane proteins in the axolemma.


Permeability

The Permeation#Simple approximation, permeability of a membrane is the rate of passive
diffusion Diffusion is the net movement of anything (for example, atoms, ions, molecules, energy) generally from a region of higher concentration to a region of lower concentration. Diffusion is driven by a gradient in Gibbs free energy or chemical p ...

diffusion
of molecules through the membrane. These molecules are known as Permeation, permeant molecules. Permeability depends mainly on the electric charge and chemical polarity, polarity of the molecule and to a lesser extent the molar mass of the molecule. Due to the cell membrane's hydrophobic nature, small electrically neutral molecules pass through the membrane more easily than charged, large ones. The inability of charged molecules to pass through the cell membrane results in pH partition of substances throughout the fluid compartments of the body.


See also

* Annular lipid shell * Artificial cell * Bacterial cell structure * Bangstad syndrome * Cell cortex * Cell damage, including damage to cell membrane * Cell theory * Cytoneme * Elasticity of cell membranes * Gram-positive bacteria * Membrane models * Membrane nanotubule * History of cell membrane theory * Lipid raft * Trogocytosis


Notes and references


External links


Lipids, Membranes and Vesicle Trafficking - The Virtual Library of Biochemistry and Cell Biology




* [http://opm.phar.umich.edu/localization.php?localization=Eukaryotic%20plasma%20membrane 3D structures of proteins associated with plasma membrane of eukaryotic cells]
Lipid composition and proteins of some eukariotic membranes
{{DEFAULTSORT:Cell Membrane Membrane biology Organelles Cell anatomy