Volume 22, Number 2, November 2009

iPages: the fluid mosaic model

Terms explained

active transport
the movement of a substance, typically against its concentration gradient.
Active transport uses specific carrier proteins in plasma membranes and ATP to transport the
molecules or ions concerned.
ATP
adenosine triphosphate, used as a source of energy, made up from a molecule of adenine
joined to the five-carbon sugar ribose and three phosphate groups. ATP releases energy for use in
many different chemical reactions, for active transport and for movement.
carrier protein a protein found in plasma membranes that helps to transport substances across the
membrane typically by either active transport or facilitated diffusion. The shape of the carrier protein is
specific to the substance it transports (i.e. one carrier protein type will only transport one particular
molecular that has the correct shape).
channel protein
a protein found in plasma membranes that helps to transport substances
across the membrane typically by facilitated diffusion but not active transport. The shape of the
channel protein is specific to the substance it transports.
cholesterol
a steroid (lipid) found in the cell membrane that helps to regulate the fluidity of the
membrane; the greater the level of cholesterol in the membrane, the lower the fluidity.
crenation
osmosis.

the shrinking and shrivelling of an animal cell that results when water is lost by

diffusion
the movement of molecules or ions from where they are in a high concentration to
where they are in a lower concentration (i.e. down their concentration gradient). This is a passive
process since energy from ATP is not required.
endocytosis the transport of large particles or fluids through the cell-surface membrane into the
cytoplasm of a cell. The cell-surface membrane surrounds the particles concerned. A vesicle or
vacuole is formed, which is pinched off and moves into the cytoplasm. This process requires ATP and
so is termed an active process.
exocytosis
a process that involves the bulk transport of materials out of cells. Vesicles are
formed. They pinch off and move towards the surface of the cell. Here, the membrane that surrounds
them fuses with the cell-surface membrane and the contents of the vesicle are released outside the
cell. This process requires ATP and so is termed an active process.
facilitated diffusion
diffusion that is helped by carrier or channel protein molecules. Molecules
such as glucose do not diffuse through the phospholipid layers in cell-surface membranes as they are
too large. When a glucose molecule collides with its specific carrier protein, the protein changes shape
and the glucose molecule moves through the membrane.
glycolipid
membrane phospholipids with carbohydrate attached. The shape of the carbohydrate
is different for deifferent glycolipids and enables cells that have different glycolipids to be recognised.

Philip Allan Updates © 2009

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glycoprotein proteins with carbohydrate attached. i. turgid a turgid cell is a cell that is full of water. the higher the water potential and hence the more likely it is that water molecules will move from this area. the sac membrane is made up of phospholipids (same structure as cell membrane). Pure water has the highest water potential with a value of zero. The shape of the carbohydrate is different for different glycoproteins and enables cells that have different membrane glycoproteins to be distinguished from each other. which causes the loss of integrity of the membrane. Philip Allan Updates © 2009 2 . This is a membrane-bound organelle. Addition of other substances to water lowers the water potential (value becomes more negative). the greater the pressure they exert. Animal cells will haemolyse and not become turgid since they do not have a cell wall. The higher the concentration of water molecules in an area. haemolysis the breakdown of an animal cell due to the excessive gain of water by osmosis. no more water can move into the cell because in plant cells the cell wall prevents further movement of water into the cell. osmosis the net movement of water molecules through a partially permeable membrane from a solution of higher water potential (less negative value) to a solution of lower water potential (more negative value). water potential a measure of the ability of water molecules to move. plasmolysis the shrinkage of cytoplasm away from the cell wall of a plant cell as a result of water being lost from the cell by osmosis. vesicle a small sac in the cytoplasm of a cell.e.