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Home » 2011 » June » 17 » Membrane Structure
7:24 PM
Membrane Structure
Membrane Structure

The cell is highly organized with many functional units or organelles. Most of these units are limited by one or more membranes. To perform the function of the organelle, the membrane is specialized in that it contains specific proteins and lipid components that enable it to perform its unique roles for that cell or organelle.  In essence membranes are essential for the integrity and function of the cell.

Membrane components may:
  • be protective
  • regulate transport in and out of cell or subcellular domain
  • allow selective receptivity and signal transduction by providing transmembrane receptors that bind signaling molecules
  • allow cell recognition
  • provide anchoring sites for cytoskeletal filaments or components of the extracellular matrix. This allows the cell to maintain its shape and perhaps move to distant sites.
  • help compartmentalize subcellular domains or microdomains
  • provide a stable site for the binding and catalysis of enzymes.
  • regulate the fusion of the membrane with other membranes in the cell via specialized junctions ) 
  • provide a passageway across the membrane for certain molecules, such as in gap junctions. 
  • allow directed cell or organelle motility

Test yourself! How much do you know about membranes?

What have you learned about membranes?
  • Architecture allows for fluidity and order.
  • Proportion of lipids and proteins vary with the cell or the domain
  • Each molecular component has unique functions vital to the cell and its domain
  • Membranes help organize the cell into domains and microdomains. This:
    •     Allows the cell to be regionally polarized
    •     Supports functional groups of proteins, enzymes, receptors, etc that work together 
    •     Provides order and organization to membranes    
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