Questions tagged [cell-membrane]

A selectively-permeable biological membrane that separates the interior of all cells from the outside environment.

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Why doesn't the cell membrane just...break apart?

Forgive me if this is a silly question. I can't understand the basics. Why doesn't the cell membrane just break apart? What's keeping the layers in the phospholipid bilayer together? I know that the ...
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How do ion channels transport only specific ions?

Ion channels, such as $Na^+$ channels and $K^+$ channels, are higly specific for ion permeability. But how do these channels achieve and maintain this specificity? Like how does a $K^+$ channel ...
another 'Homo sapien''s user avatar
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Why do soap molecules not break down your skin cells when you wash your hands?

Soap molecules are similar in structure to phospholipids and interact with the cell membrane. They can clearly cause damage to the cell membrane. If this is the case, why then, does soap not break ...
chemN00b's user avatar
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What is the transmembrane 'Positive-Inside Rule' nowadays? Has the definition changed over time?

First definition. Two publications by von Heijne in 1989 and 1992 coined the 'Positive-Inside rule' and showed it's practical value in topology prediction of transmembrane helices. It was clearly ...
James's user avatar
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At what point during an action potential are the sodium potassium pumps working?

I'm trying to understand how all of the potentials during an action potential are created. My question specifically is about the sodium potassium pumps, however I would also be grateful if someone ...
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Why don't the heads of phospholipid bilayers repel hydrophobic molecules?

What I Think I Know: Hydrophilic and hydrophobic things repel each other. Since the cell membrane contains hydrophobic tails, it is difficult for hydrophilic molecules to pass through the cell ...
Taylor's user avatar
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How is membrane capacitance related to the increased speed of saltatory conduction?

Here is the original question which inspired my question. As explained by the answers there, the reason saltatory conduction in myelinated neurons is faster than non-myelinated conduction is because ...
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What is the difference between organelle membranes?

Cells and organelles are contained in lipid bilayers. I'm particularly interested in eukaryotic organelle bilayers and the biophysicochemical differences between them. Many papers assume a ...
James's user avatar
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Why don't phospholipid bilayers dissolve?

I just started learning about the structure and composition of cell's membrane and there is something that I fail to understand. The membrane is composed of a phospholipid bilayer. The phospholipid ...
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Why can't H3O+ ions pass through aquaporins?

Aquaporins are proteins that facilitate the movement of water (and related molecules) through cell membranes. (Also, these transport proteins are very specific about what they transport.) ...
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How does membrane potential vary between intraceullar membranes and the cellular membrane?

Question Does each type of membrane have a different membrane potential? I'm especially interested in answers that can cite academic papers that have attempted to measure membrane potentials. ...
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What specific membrane adaptations do cells have for saline-rich environs?

Are the cells of marine animals and flora equipped with special ion exchange pumps to mitigate the effects of a saline-rich environment? Or have the cell's membranes adapted through structural ...
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How fast do lipids on the inside and outside of a lipid bilayer exchange?

Biological membranes normally have different composition of lipids on the inside and outside (ref 1, ref 2). This is maintained both by how new lipids are added to membranes, and by specialized ...
Alex I's user avatar
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What are the secondary structure requirements for cell-penetrating peptides AKA protein transduction domains

Cell penetrating peptides. Cell penetrating peptides (CPPs) are a class of short amino acid sequences which are sufficient for crossing cell membranes and delivering themselves along with any attached ...
Demosthenes' pars triangularis's user avatar
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Why don't membrane proteins move?

I understand that based on their tertiary structure, intrinsic proteins have hydrophobic non-polar R-groups on their surface and that they 'interact with the hydrophobic core of the cell membrane to ...
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Why should phospholipid non-polar tails be "protected" in the membrane bilayer?

lipids are arranged within the membrane with polar head towards the outer side and non polar tails towards inner side, this ensures that the non polar tail is protected from aqueous environment. My ...
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How efficient is the sodium-potassium pump ?

I am reading about transportation of ions in a cell. It is necessary to transport sodium back out and potassium back in, against their electrochemical gradient. This task is carried out by sodium-...
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How do lipid-soluble substances diffuse through the cell membrane?

It’s said that water-soluble substances can diffuse through cell membrane with less ease than lipid-soluble substances because the former encounters impedance in the hydrophobic region of the ...
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What recovers normal polarisation after hyperpolarisation?

I have been taught that a $\ce{Na+/~K+}$ pump helps to recover normal polarisation after-hyperpolarisation in neurones. I could not find out how it does that, since I've also been taught that such a ...
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Why lipophilic molecules can pass phospholipid bilayer, in spite of 2 hydrophilic layers?

It is commonly told that, hydrophobic/ lipophilic/ nonpolar molecules can quite easily pass phospholipid bilayer, and hydrophilic (polar or ionic) molecules can't pass (when no protein aid that); ...
Always Confused's user avatar
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3 answers
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What is a membrane potential?

I know this may be silly, but I am confused to what a membrane potential actually is. I understand that at resting membrane potential is -70- -80 mV. But what does that exactly mean and how does this ...
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Why do grapes not pea shrink when placed in strong sugar solution?

I tried an experiment. First, I placed grapes in pure water(hypotonic solution). The grapes burst because of endosmosis. Then, I placed new set of grapes in strong sugar solution(fully saturated) but ...
Pranit Bauva's user avatar
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2 answers
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How do membrane proteins find their target locations?

The question might be asked for any kind of "bound" proteins, but I'd like to restrict it to membrane proteins. Assuming membrane proteins (or their main parts) don't (or aren't) build in situ but at ...
Hans-Peter Stricker's user avatar
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Permeability of Plasma Membrane

I’m having trouble grasping why small polar molecules can cross the hydrophobic region of the membrane and not ions. Won’t the polar molecules be attracted to the watery extracellular medium and not ...
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Difference between facilitated diffusion and secondary active transport in cells

Specifically, what is the difference between facilitated diffusion carrier processes (passive transport) and secondary active transport co-transport processes (active transport)? They seem to be the ...
Zelda Quandt 's user avatar
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Can Oxaloacetate cross the outer mitochondrial membrane?

I am aware of the Malate–Aspartate Shuttle, but something is not clear to me and different sources seem to contradict each other. Some show oxaloacetate (OAA) being reduced to malate in the ...
electronpusher's user avatar
7 votes
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What mechanism causes the presence of photosensitizers in mitochondria to change membrane ionic currents?

In the original question, the article in question was talking about specifically about this compound, Benzoporphyrin: Characterization of Perturbing Actions by Verteporfin, a Benzoporphyrin ...
C-Consciousness's user avatar
6 votes
3 answers
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Can general soap kill bacteria?

I have read that general soap can kill bacteria by opening holes in the bacterial membrane. http://questions.sci-toys.com/node/90 However, I found some articles as well saying that it cannot. http:/...
Trailblazer's user avatar
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Problems understanding membrane potential

I understand that membrane potential is the difference of the extracellular and intracellular ionic charges, due to their concentrations. We say that the extracellular space has a charge of 0 and then ...
Paze's user avatar
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How did the endoplasmic reticulum come to be?

Organelles are sub-cellular compartments in cells. However prokaryotes don't use organelles to organise their intracellular space. Evolutionarily, there is evidence that mitochondria and ...
James's user avatar
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Why was the Davson-Danielli model rejected?

According to my textbook, Davson-Danielli's model of a phospholipid bilayer sandwiched between two layers of globular protein was incorrect. The nonpolar protein portions would separate the polar ...
Alzeon's user avatar
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Inductance in cell

In an animal cell, especially neuron and in particular its axon, while there is electrical resistance and capacitance mechanism in the cell, which play essential roles in the cable theory model of ...
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1 answer
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What is the lipid membrane of SARS-CoV-2 made of?

SARS-CoV-2 is an enveloped virus: in structural diagrams it is drawn with membrane glycoprotein (M), envelope protein (E) and spike protein (S) embedded in a lipid membrane. What specifically is the ...
Alex I's user avatar
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1 answer
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Phospholipid movement in cell membranes

What causes phospholipids to flow so quickly in cell membranes? In Biology by Cambell et al. they state that a phospholipids can travel up to 2 micrometers per second. Is that a random movement or has ...
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Are cells really the basic unit of all life? [closed]

Please see comments as to the appropriateness of this question on biology SE. All known life on Earth is made up of cells. It is thus safe to say that all known life is characterized by the presence ...
LanceLafontaine's user avatar
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1 answer
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At what calcium concentration does the Sodium-Calcium Exchanger (NCX) "turn on"?

I am interested in the comparison between the Plasma Membrane Calcium ATPase (PMCA) and the Sodium-Calcium Exchanger (NCX) which are two pumps on the plasma membrane of cells that serve to move ...
BioPhysicist's user avatar
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1 answer
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Why do larger diameter myelinated axons have greater conduction velocities than small diameter myelinated axons?

A canonical statement I have frequently read is that "large diameter axons conduct action potentials at faster velocities than small diameter axons". After recently learning the effect of increased ...
S.C.'s user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
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How does cholesterol affect the fluidity of a plasma membrane?

I was previously taught that cholesterol affects the fluidity of a plasma membrane. At high temperatures, cholesterol decreases fluidity and at low temperatures cholesterol increases fluidity. The ...
user1's user avatar
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6 votes
3 answers
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Why do cell membranes let small non-polar molecules through but won't let small polar molecules through?

If the hydrophobic hydrocarbon chain of the phospholipid prevents the movement of polar molecules through the membrane. Why does the hydrophilic phosphate head of the phospholipid not prevent the ...
Noah Harrison's user avatar
5 votes
3 answers
28k views

Why do cell membranes have a lipid bilayer instead of a monolayer?

Many cells have a cell membrane composed of two layers of lipids. Why is it that they have two layers and not just one? What purpose do this arrangement serve?
Gerard's user avatar
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Is plasma membrane permeable to sucrose

I searched a lot in the net but don't found a clear answer. I just want to know if plasma membrane is permeable to sucrose.
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Why does K+ move out of the cell?

I was reading this page: Equilibrium Potentials when I found the following example at the end of the page: "If the K+ equilibrium potential is –90 mV and the membrane potential is –70 mV, in what ...
Cure's user avatar
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If proteins have an overall charge, how do membrane proteins traverse through the hydrophobic region of the plasma membrane?

These two concepts seem almost contradictory, proteins have a net negative charge due to the amino acids in them each having a small negative charge, yet membrane proteins are able to exist traversing ...
Matthew Higgins's user avatar
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1 answer
31k views

How many cell membranes are oxygen and carbon dioxide diffuse through in the lungs?

In the lungs, oxygen and carbon dioxide pass through cell membranes by diffusion. Which row is correct? The correct answer is D, but I think it should be B. I can only think about three layers as ...
anonymous's user avatar
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Membrane Permeability to Pyruvate

Pyruvate seems to pass easily through the outer membrane of the mitochondrion but has difficulty entering the inner membrane (and gets in by H+ symport). I have two questions: (1) what property of ...
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Why does a "cascade" of events happen during signal transduction?

I've been watching some videos on signal transduction and it says that because there are enzymes being activated by the signal, then there is a "cascade" which happens afterwards...I don't understand ...
Paze's user avatar
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2 answers
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Simple diffusion of lipid-soluble molecules through phospholipid bilayer -- does anything get "stuck" in transit?

It's a pretty elementary concept, and when I first learned of it I don't think I had the foundations to even think of such a question, but I found myself the other day thinking about the amphipathic ...
yelx's user avatar
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How are lysosome membranes protected from the attack of hydrolases?

Lysosomes are a bit like the suicidal bags of cells. They help to clean cells, have an acidic pH and contain a large number of hydrolyzing enzymes. But why don't these hydrolyzing enzymes attack ...
Eka's user avatar
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1 answer
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Problem with an analogy (Cell Membrane)

I'm studying biology for the first time seriously. I've been reading OpenStax College's material. In the section of "The Cell Membrane", I have the following problem: Choose the answer that best ...
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