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Plasma Membrane Of a Cell: Description Of Its Structure And Function

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A cell is the basic functional and structural unit of all known living organisms, which is also known as the smallest unit of life. Cells are often referred to as the “building blocks of life”. The study regarding cells is known as cell biology or cellular biology. Cells consists of cytoplasm, a plasma membrane which is the covering of the cell. Organisms can be classified on the basis of unicellular which are single-celled organism and multicellular like human beings. Existence of the number of cells in plants and animals vary from species to species. Most of these cells are not visible with the naked eye and need a microscope for their visibility.

The cell membrane is referred to as the plasma membrane or the cytoplasmic membrane. It is a biological membrane which separates and protects the inside of the cell from the outer environment. The plasma membrane consists of the lipid bilayer, which includes cholesterols that is sandwiched between phospholipids which maintain the fluidity under changing temperatures. It combines with proteins such as integral proteins and peripheral proteins that go across the inside and the outside of the membrane serving as a transporter. The cell membrane monitors the movement of the substances across the cell and the organelles. This is how it supports the trait of being selectively permeable to ions and organic molecules. Along with this, the plasma membrane is involved in a number of processes such as cell adhesion, cell signaling and ion conductivity. It also serves as an attachment surface for several extracellular structures, including the cell wall in a plant cell.

The carbohydrate layer which is called the glycocalyx and the network between the layers of protein fibers called the cytoskeleton also uses the plasma membrane as the surface. Within the field of synthetic biology, the plasma membranes are artificially reassembled.

 The cell membrane is made up of a variety of biological molecules, proteins and lipids. The composition of a plasma membrane is not stagnant and changes constantly depending upon the fluidity and changes in the temperature. It consists of three classes of amphipathic lipids: phospholipids, glycolipids and sterols.  

Functions of plasma membrane:

  1. Plasma membrane serves the purpose of separating the components of the cell from the outer surroundings.
  2. The membrane monitors enter and exit of substances across the cell.
  3. Entry of substances into the cell is done selectively by the membrane.
  4. The cell membrane has a huge role to play while protecting the integrity of the cell and its contents.
  5. The plasma membrane acts as a base for attachment of the cytoskeleton in some organisms and the cell wall in the remaining organisms.
  6. Lipids and proteins are the constituents of the cell membrane. Lipids provide flexibility to the membrane, while the proteins maintain the chemical climate of the interior of the cell and also help in the transference of molecules across the membrane.
  7. The lipid bi layer maintains its semi permeability that is allowed for the molecules to diffuse across the membrane.

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