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Cell Membrane

Cell Biology
Lecture #3
Cell wall vs. Cell membrane
All living cells have cell membranes (plasma

Cell wall most commonly found in plant cells.

Cell membrane is part of living cell:
Remove cell wall under appropriate conditions and
cell lives.

However minor disruption of cell membrane => cell

How does the cell
membrane look like?
Danielli and Davson model
Cell membrane is made of a phospholipid
bilayer sandwiched between two layers of
globular protein.
The polar (hydrophilic) heads of phospholipids
are oriented towards the protein layers forming
a hydrophilic zone.
The nonpolar (hydrophobic) tails of
phospholipids are oriented in between polar
heads forming a hydrophobic zone.
Problems with the Danielli and Davson
Not all membranes are identical or symmetrical.

A membrane with an outside layer of proteins

would be an unstable structure.

Membrane proteins are not soluble in water, and,

like phospholipid, they are amphipathic.

Protein layer not likely because its hydrophobic

regions would be in an aqueous environment, and
it would also separate the hydrophilic phospholipid
heads from water.
The Fluid Mosaic Model
It was proposed by Singer & Nicolson (1972)
It is the model that is currently accepted.

The biological membranes can be

considered as a two-dimensional liquid
where all lipid and protein molecules
diffuse more or less freely
The Fluid Mosaic Model
The membrane has 2 major molecular

Lipids = mostly phospholipids & cholesterol

Proteins =
a) Integral (intrinsic)
b) Peripheral (extrinsic)
The Fluid Mosaic Model
Membrane proteins
1- Integral proteins
They are inserted into the membrane so their hydrophobic
regions are surrounded by hydrocarbon portions of
phospholipids. They may be:
Unilateral, reaching only part way across the
Transmembrane, with hydrophobic midsections
between hydrophilic ends exposed on both sides.
Peripheral proteins
They are not embedded but attached to
the membrane's surface.
Membrane Carbohydrates
They are usually branched oligosaccharides.

Some are covalently bonded to lipids


Most are covalently bonded to proteins


Vary from species to species, between

individuals of the same species and among
cells in the same individual
Functions of membrane proteins
(a) Channels
(b) Carriers

2-Enzymatic activity.

A protein built into the

membrane may be an enzyme
Functions of membrane proteins
3-Signal transduction.

A membrane protein may have a

binding site with a specific shape
that fits the shape of a chemical
messenger, such as a hormone.

4- Cell-cell recognition.
Some glycoproteins serve as
identification tags that are
specifically recognized by other
Functions of membrane proteins
5- Intercellular joining.
Membrane proteins of adjacent cells may
hook together in various kinds of
junctions, such as gap junctions or tight

6- Attachment to the
cytoskeleton and extracellular
Matrix (ECM).

Microfilaments or other elements of the

cytoskeleton may be bonded to
membrane proteins.
The membrane fluidity & Lipids
Phospholipids can drift laterally in the plane of the

Also, phospholipids can migrate from the monolayer

on one side to that on the other = flip-flop (rarely)
Protein Movement
Membrane proteins drift more slowly than lipids.
The fact that proteins drift laterally was established
experimentally by fusing a human and mouse cell
(Frye and Edidin, 1970):
Membranes are Asymmetrical

Carbohydrates are found only on the outer side

of the bilayer

The different types of phospholipids are

distributed asymmetrically in the 2 phospholipid
layers: PC is usually in the outer layer and PS, PI
and PE are in the inner bilayer.
New membrane synthesis
Synthesis of
molecules starts out
in the inside face or
the endoplasmic
reticulum (ER) and
ends up on the
outside face of the
plasma membrane
Synthesis of
membrane proteins
and lipids in ER
(making glycoproteins
after modification).

Inside Golgi apparatus,

carbohydrates gets
further modification and
lipids become
Transport proteins,
secretory proteins
and glycolipids are
transported in
vesicles to the
plasma membrane.

Vesicle fuses with

the membrane
releasing secretory
proteins from the
cell and depositing
glycoproteins and
glycolipids on the
surface of the cell.