Components and Structure

Section Summary

Modern scientists refer to the plasma membrane as the fluid mosaic model. A phospholipid bilayer comprises the plasma membrane, with hydrophobic, fatty acid tails in contact with each other. The membrane's landscape is studded with proteins, some which span the membrane. Some of these proteins serve to transport materials into or out of the cell. Carbohydrates are attached to some of the proteins and lipids on the membrane's outward-facing surface, forming complexes that function to identify the cell to other cells. The membrane's fluid nature is due to temperature, fatty acid tail configuration (some kinked by double bonds), cholesterol presence embedded in the membrane, and the mosaic nature of the proteins and protein-carbohydrate combinations, which are not firmly fixed in place. Plasma membranes enclose and define the cells' borders. Not static, they are dynamic and constantly in flux.