RUSSELL KIGHTLEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY RUSSELL KIGHTLEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Animal cell membrane. Artwork of the structure of an animal cell membrane. The membrane is sectioned and seen as the horizontal layer across centre. It separates the inside of the cell (brown) from the outside (black). An animal cell membrane or plasma membrane consists of phospholipid molecules. These have a lipid tail (yellow) that repels water, and a phosphate ester head (blue) that attracts water. These opposing properties mean that a bilayer of tail-to-tail phospholipids is stable in water. Embedded in this bilayer are transmembrane and membrane proteins (bulges) for sensing chemicals and controlling the way substances pass into and out of the cell.
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