FRANCIS LEROY & JANA HERMANOVA, BIOCOSMOS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY FRANCIS LEROY & JANA HERMANOVA, BIOCOSMOS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Animation of the structure of a cell membrane. Cell membranes are formed of a phospholipid bilayer, a double layer of molecules with a hydrophilic (water-loving) head (orange spheres) and two long hydrophobic (water-hating) lipid tails (brown). These arrange themselves so that the hydrophobic tails attract each other, with the hydrophilic heads lining either side of the layer. The membrane is very fluid, but the addition of cholesterol (blue and red) modifies its fluidity to optimum levels for correct functioning. Within the bilayer float numerous membrane proteins, some of which cross it completely (transmembrane proteins). These are involved in transporting substances into and out of the cell, and conducting signals across the membrane. They interact with external substances through receptor domains on their outer surfaces. Sugar chains (blue strands) could be involved in this recognition. The membrane proteins and phospholipids can move freely throughout the membrane. Master same as original.
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