Why It Matters: Cell Membranes

Why describe and explain the structure and function of membranes?

This module covers the structure and function of membranes. We had a brief introduction to them in the previous module, but we’ll go into much greater depth here.

The cell membrane regulates interactions between fluid inside the cell and outside the cell. The cell membrane is a vital part of the cell. It contains many different parts and pieces, each with an essential function. Disruptions in this process often result in disease. Understanding the proteins in the cell membrane lend insights into health and wellness. Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition that results from the malfunctioning of a single membrane transporter.

We’ll return to cystic fibrosis at the end of the lesson, when we can examine in greater detail the causative agent and malfunction leading to this horrible disease.

Learning Outcomes

  • Describe the structure and function of membranes, especially the phospholipid bilayer.
  • Distinguish between passive and active transport; explain how substances are directly transported across a membrane.
  • Describe the primary mechanisms by which cells import and export macromolecules.