SUBCELLULAR ORGANIZATION and FUNCTION
Based on lecture and text material, you should be able to do the following:
► define selective permeability and indicate its importance in biological membranes
► list the major constituents of cell membranes and indicate the general membrane
function of each
► discuss the hydrophilic and hydrophobic nature of membrane phospholipids and discuss
why this is important in forming a lipid bilayer
► distinguish between intrinsic and extrinsic membrane proteins and state the reason why
they exist in these different locations
► discuss the concept of membrane fluidity
► illustrate how some proteins move freely within the membrane while others are anchored
in stationary positions within the membrane
► define diffusion (without having to use the phrase "all other things being equal") and list
the physical factors that determine the rate of diffusion
► describe which types of molecules can diffuse through cell membranes and the routes
through which they diffuse
► describe the different types of membrane transport proteins and how it is believed they
assist the movement of molecules across the membrane
► describe how these proteins can be so specific with regards to which molecules they will
► describe the process of active transport by membrane transport proteins
► illustrate the manner in which facilitated diffusion differs from active transport
► define osmosis (in terms of water molecules, not solute particles) and describe the
physical factors which determine the direction and rate of osmosis
► compare the structure and function of tight junctions, desmosomes, and gap junctions
► list the primary functions served by membranes in cells
► define organelle
► describe the structure, composition and function of the cell nucleus
► describe the structure and function of ribosomes
► describe the structure and function of mitochondria
► define the endomembrane system
► distinguish between the structure and function of smooth and rough endoplasmic
► describe the structure and function of the Golgi apparatus and lysosome
► define endocytosis and exocytosis, and distinguish between pinocytosis and phagocytosis
► describe how new cell membranes are formed
► describe the concept of membrane flow and use it to show how new cell membrane is
transported from its site of synthesis to the plasma membrane.
► define cytoskeleton and provide examples of cytoskeletal components
► define glycocalyx and discuss its function
Cell Growth and Reproduction
1 ► list the phases of the cell cycle and describe the events of each phase
► describe DNA replication
► define gene and explain the function of genes
► define transcription
► distinguish between mRNA, tRNA, and rRNA
► define translation
► describe the process of protein synthesis
Cell Living structural and functional unit of all organisms
Genetic Code Information encoded in nucleotide base sequences.
Nucleus (nucle = pit, kernel) The control center of a cell; contains genetic
material in the form of diffuse chromatin threads or condensed
Cytoplasm (cyto = cell; plasm = shaped or molded) The cellular material surrounding
the nucleus and enclosed by the plasma membrane.
Organelle (elle = little) Small cellular structure (ribosome, mitochondrion, etc.) that performs
specific function(s) for the cell as a whole. With the exception of ribosomes all
organelles are membrane bound.
Hydrophilic and (hydro = water; phil = love; phob = fear, dislike) Terms that refer to
Hydrophobic molecules or portions of molecules that interact with water and
charged particles (hydrophilic) or only interact with non-polar molecules
Passive Transport Membrane transport processes that do not require cellular energy; e.g.
diffusion, osmosis, facilitated diffusion.
Tonicity (ton = strength) A measure of the ability of a solution to cause a change in cell
shape or tone by promoting the osmotic flow of water.
Active Transport Membrane transport processes for which ATP is required.
Mitosis Process during which the chromosomes are redistributed to two daughter nuclei;
nuclear division. Typicallyfollowed by a cytoplasmic division (cytokinesis).
2 I. COMMON CHARACTERISTICS of CELLS (pp 65-67)
A. CELL THEORY
The cell theory assumes the following:
1) The cell is the basic unit of life
2) The activity of an organism is dependent on the individual and collective activities of its
3) The biochemical activities of cells are determined by subcellular structures
4) Allcells arise from pre-existing cells
Most cells are small, depend on external energy sources, selectively regulate exchange of material
with their environments and use information in their DNA to regulate their chemistry.
Each cell contains the genetic information necessary to produce an entire organism. Thus:
→ There are many examples where an entire plant can be produced from only a small part of
→ Organelles can be sustained in culture but none can reproduce an entire cell, not even the
→ There is tremendous diversity in diameter, length and shape of different cells.
II. PLASMA MEMBRANE
A. STRUCTURE (pp 68-70)
The Fluid Mosaic Model
Biological membranes have two components:
1. Phospholipid bilayer and
. Polar phosphate heads and non-polar lipid tails orient initially through hydrophilic and
. Weak bonds between the non-polar lipid tails stabilize the membrane - this produces a highly
organized and oriented structure dictated by polarity.
. Cholesterol has a polar and a short non-polar region. It binds with the phospholipid head and
stabilizes the outer portion of the membrane.
Proteins are incorporated into the membrane in the following ways:
. Extrinsic or peripheral proteins are attached to either the external or internal surface of the
. Intrinsic or integral proteins project through both surfaces (span the bilayer).
Allthese proteins act as one or more of the following:
→ transport proteins → enzymes
→ cell recognition markers
→ receptors (e.g. for hormones or neurotransmitters)
→ cell adhesion molecules
→ attachement sites for cytoskeleton
The structure of the plasma membrane is not static, as the lipid molecules are held together
by weak bonds or simple hydrophobic interactions and, therefore, they can and do move
around. They move laterally almost continually and can even flip flop from internal to
external surfaces although this does not occur very often. It is this "fluidity" that gives the
fluid mosaic model part of its name.
Proteins can also move to some extent. Many, however, are anchored in place by binding within
the membrane as well as binding to the internal cytoskeleton of the cell.
It is the fact that the proteins are scattered throughout the membrane that gives rise to the mosaic
part of the name.
Glycocalyx (Cell Coat)
Animal cells have carbohydrates covalently bonded to the proteins (glycoprotein) and lipids
(glycolipid) of the cell membrane (glycocalyx).
All these components do not form a rigid structure but serve primarily as recognition sites. As a
result, cells can recognize other cells of the same type, as in tissue culture, or cells of a
different type, as during development (e.g. outgrowth of nerves and blood vessels to different
Certain components of glycocalyx are also important regulators of cell growth and division.
Contact on all sides with other cells usually leads to cessation of growth (contact inhibition),
both in tissue culture and in vivo.
There is also a strong scientific evidence suggesting that in certain types of cancer some
abnormality of glycocalyx leads to uncontrolled proliferation of such cells.
Glycocalyx is important in antibody-antigen interactions, which may take place as a result of
immune response, and is critical for egg-sperm recognition during fertilization.
B. SPECIALIZATIONS of the CELL MEMBRANE (p. 40-71)
Microvilli: Foldings of the cell membrane, which increase cell surface area, have protein (actin)
Membrane Junctions: Most cells are held together by the sticky glcocalyx as well as by close fit.
Three special membrane junctions can also occur in certain cells:
_ Tight Junctions: formed by protein molecules in adjacent cell membranes that
together; occur circumferentially, completely blocking the passage of molecules between cells
and through the intercellular space; very important in epithelial tissues.
Desmosomes: glycoproteins of neighboring cells bind and hold cells together. The
glycoproteins are attached to thickenings of the inner plasma membrane which in turn are anchored in the membrane by keratin filaments. Desmosomes are found in cells that
undergo a lot of mechanical stress such as skin or heart muscle and act to hold the
neighboring cells together and prevent them from being pulled apart by mechanical forces.
Gap Junctions: Pores formed by transmembrane proteins in adjoining cells fuse to create a
channel between cells allowing small molecules to pass from cell to cell. They play an
important role in excitable tissues.
C. FUNCTION of CELL MEMBRANES in TRANSPORT (pp 71-80)
Routes of movement through membranes
Movement through the lipid bilayer:
Only lipid soluble substances (i.e. non-polar substances) can move freely through the membrane itself.
These include O 2 CO ,2urea, and alcohol.
Movement through transport proteins:
Water and all water soluble substances willhave trouble penetrating the membrane directly. All
avenues available to them involve one or more types of the transport proteins.
The proteins involved in membrane transport are globular proteins and are specific for which
molecules they willtransport. This specificity is due to the requirement for the right spatial and
binding fit between the transport protein and the molecules being transported.
Transport proteins have many of the characteristics of enzymes but they catalyze movement
rather than chemical reactions
Types of transport proteins:
1. Simple Channels
Are pores in the membrane created by the three-dimensional shapes of the protein molecules;
they are always open but highly specific (transport only one type of a molecule, typically an
ion), e.g. "potassium leak channel".
2. Gated Channels
Have similar structure to simple channels but are closed, their "gates" open only in the
1) a specific chemical (ligand) (chemically gated channels, e.g. calcium-dependent
potassium channel), or
2) change in membrane potential (voltage gated channels, e.g. voltage-gated sodium or
Channels allow for passive transport only, which means that transport across the membrane is
down the concentration and electrical gradients only, and it does not require any energy input
from the cell.
3. Protein Carriers
Are transport proteins used to move large polar molecules across the membrane, Include
uniports, symports, and antiports. Some of these carriers require energy to perform their
function (pumps) while others do not.
There must be a specific protein present for each large polar molecule which is transported
across the cell membrane and by controlling which proteins are incorporated into the plasma membrane, cells can control which water soluble molecules can enter the cell.
Forces Involved in Movement through Membranes
Passive transport accelerates movement along the free energy gradient B makes no energy
demand on the cell, and includes:
Diffusion: Standard definition is "all other things being equal, diffusion is the net
movement of particles of a particular substances from regions of higher to regions of
lower concentration of that substance".
_ Diffusion is faster in gas vs. liquids vs. solids
_ Temperature increases the rate of diffusion (increased thermal motion _ increased
rate of movement _ increased number of collisions)
_ Differences in pressure and electrical charge also alter the rate of diffusion
Diffusion can be against an apparent concentration gradient; hence, a better definition of
diffusion is the "net movement of particles of a particular substance from areas of high
free energy to areas of low free energy of that substance".
Osmosis: Standard definition is "all other things being equal, osmosis is the net
movement of a solvent across a semi-permeable membrane from areas of low
solute concentration to areas of high solute concentration".
→ the rate of movement depends on differences in the number, not size of the solute
→ differences in pressure and temperature alter the rate of movement of the solvent.
Note: the textbook uses term "water concentration" which is incorrect.
In living cells, the movement of water into or out of cells changes the volume and the
hydrostatic pressure in the cell.
An increase in the volume of a cell due to osmosis willincrease the pressure in the cell and
raise the energy content of the water molecules. This pressure is referred to as osmotic
pressure and acts to resist further water entry into the cell.
Osmosis is better defined as the "net movement of a solvent across a semi-permeable
membrane from an area of high energy to an area of low energy of that solvent".
Facilitated Diffusion: Molecules are transported across the membrane by carrier proteins
but the driving force (the source of energy) arises from simple diffusion.
Filtration: Water and solutes may be forced through membranes by pressure. The driving
force is a free energy gradient due to pressure differences on either side of the membrane.
Active transport involves the movement against a free energy gradient and requires energy
input by the cell in a form of ATP. Protein pumps, or special type of carrier proteins, are usually used to accomplish active
transport, the driving force is generated by the hydrolysis of ATP.
Another example of active transport is the vesicular transport. Again, it is energized by
ATP and includes:
- receptor-mediated endocytosis
Note: although substances taken in by vesicular transport are within the cell, they have not
come into contact with the cytoplasm (i.e. are not really inside the cell). To enter
cytoplsm, they must still cross a membrane of a vesicle by one of the routes already
III. CYTOPLASM and ORGANELLES (pp 83-96)
It constitutes the cellular material inside the plasma membrane and outside the nucleus; it is the
side of most cellular activities.
Cytoplasm is composed of cytosol, a complex viscous fluid with several substances such as
soluble proteins, ions, sugars, etc. dissolved in it; organelles, responsible for metabolic activities
within the cell, and inclusions or chemical substances, such as glycogen granules or lipid droplets
present only in certain types of specialized cells.
Are typically(but not always, e.g. ribosomes) membrane-bound, sub-cellular structures.
1. Roles of membranes:
1. Allow for the creation of specific chemical environments
2. Partition substances, prevent mixing
3. Act as catalytic surfaces
4. Act as recognition surfaces for cell-to-cell interactions
2. Information Processing Organelles
→ Largest organelle, contains the DNA
→ Plays a key role in reproduction, cell differentiation and in directing the metabolic
activities of the cell
→ Some cells with a large cytoplasmic mass (e.g. skeletal muscle cells) have more
than one nucleus since they need more control sites
→ Some cells have no nucleus, e.g. human red blood cells (erythrocytes)
- double phospholipid bilayer.
- the outer membrane is continuous with the endoplasmic reticulum and may have
ribosomes attached to it. Nuclear Pores:
- perforate the envelope.
- formed in areas where inner and outer membranes merge. Ringed by eight protein
- are selective to what willpass through them (movement is not based on size), as a result
manymolecules that enter cells easilycannot enter the nucleus; many macromolecules
such as RNA and some proteins move freelybetween the nucleus and cytoplasm .
- a complex of DNA and histone proteins.
- histone proteins help package DNA and play a role in the regulation of the expression of
the genes on the DNA.
- carry instructions for the synthesis of proteins; this dictates which enzymes are made and
therefore which chemical reactions willtake place inside the cell and therefore, the basic
characteristics of the cell.
- may be one or several.
- are specialized parts of specific chromosomes.
- site of ribosomal RNA synthesis and assemblyof the ribosomes
- like the cytosol, is composed of water, salts, nutrients, etc.
→ Composed of two subunits , each composed of ribosomal RNA with a large
number of associated proteins
→ Are the sites of protein synthesis
→ Are found in several different places:
_ free in the cytoplasm where they participate in synthesis os soluble proteins that
function in cell's cytoplasm,
_ bound to endoplasmic reticulum where they participate in synthesis of proteins for
inclusion into membranes or export out of cell,
_ inside of mitochondria (which produce their own ribosomes from their own RNA)
→ Are not membrane bound
3. Energy Processing Organelles
_ are the site of cellular respiration
_ number in a cell varies roughly in proportion to the metabolic activity of the cell