Membrane Functions Essay

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Membranes have many different functions, with the most prominent being in eukaryotic cells, due to the fact that they have membrane bound organelles, however, prokaryotes also have membranes with specific functions, which I will come onto later on, all of which are partially permeable. Membranes are phospholipid bilayers, whereby they are similar to triglycerides due to having 3 fatty acids, however, the bilayer replaces on of the fatty acids with a phosphate group, which is polar, thus when placed in water it becomes hydrophilic, moving away from the water, thus forming a bilayer. This is known as a micelle. Across the membrane there are intrinsic and extrinsic proteins. Extrinsic proteins can join with carbohydrates to form glycocalyx, which allows for cell communication, as well as for recognition of own cells in order to prevent an auto-immune response. Intrinsic proteins include carrier proteins and channel proteins, which allow for specific substances to enter and exit the cell. Substances that aren’t small enough to diffuse across the bilayer, or aren’t lipid soluble like hormones, can’t pass the membrane unless they go through channel/carrier proteins via facilitated diffusion. This is the case with the passing of Na+ ions out of the neurone axon. Neurones also have a sodium-potassium pump embedded into the neurone membrane, which allows for the neurone’s resting potential to be maintained. A similar pump that is on the cristae of the mitochondria, called the ATP synthase pump, which allows for the production of ATP during respiration. Hydrogen ions from the electron transport chain are diffused into the intermembrane space between the cristae and outer membrane of the mitochondria, creating a concentration gradient, so H+ ions rush through the pump, joining ADP and Phosphate. To use the ATP, another pump (ATPase), ATP binds to the carrier and

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