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17.1: Introduction

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    Small molecules like O2 or CO2 can cross cellular membranes unassisted; neither the hydrophilic surfaces nor the hydrophobic interior of the phospholipid bilayer are barriers to their transit. On the other hand, most molecules (even water!) need the help of membrane transport proteins to get in or out of cells and organelles. Transport proteins can act as gates that might be open or closed. When open, they permit diffusion of molecules into or out of cells along a concentration gradient so that their concentrations equalize across the membrane. Like the passive diffusion of small gasses, facilitated diffusion by membrane proteins does not require an input of energy. In contrast, some transport proteins are actually pumps, using chemical energy to move molecules across membranes against a concentration gradient. The result of this active transport is to concentrate solutes on one side of a membrane. For example, pumps that create sodium and potassium ion gradients are responsible for the excitability of cells. Recall that this is one of the fundamental properties of life: the ability of cells and organisms to respond to stimuli.

    As you read this chapter, look for how allosteric change can regulate membrane function, where we consider how:

    • membrane gates and pumps work
    • membrane protein interactions allow cells to self-assemble into tissues and organs.
    • cells direct protein traffic to the cytoplasm, into membrane themselves, into organelles, or out of the cell
    • membrane proteins participate in direct communication between adjacent cells.
    • membrane proteins are receptors for more long-distance communications
    • membrane proteins are receptors for more long-distance communications, responding to neurotransmitters, hormones, and other external chemical signals.

    Learning Objectives

    1. Explain how/why one cell’s plasma membrane differs from that of another cell type.
    2. Explain how/why the plasma membrane differs from other membranes with in the same cell.
    3. Determine if a solute crosses a plasma membrane by passive or facilitated diffusion.
    4. Explain how salmon can spend part of their lives in the ocean and part swimming upstream in freshwater to spawn, without their cells shriveling or bursting.
    5. Explain how active transport stores chemical energy (recall electron transport).
    6. Explain the role of active transport in maintaining/restoring a cell’s resting potential.
    7. Compare and contrast different kinds of gated channels.
    8. Describe the order of ion movements that generate an action potential.
    9. Define and compare exocytosis, pinocytosis, phagocytosis and receptor-mediated endocytosis
    10. Distinguish between signal molecules that enter cells to deliver their chemical message and those deliver their message only as far as the plasma membrane.
    11. Trace an intracellular response to a steroid hormone to a likely cellular effect.
    12. Trace a liver cell response to adrenalin from plasma membrane to glycogenolysis (glycogen breakdown).
    13. Compare the signal transduction activities of different G-protein receptors leading to the first active kinase enzyme.
    14. Explain how a liver cell can respond the same way to two different hormones (e.g., adrenalin and glucagon)…, and why this should be possible
    15. Describe/explain how a phosphorylation cascade amplifies the cellular response to a small amount of an effector (signal) molecule.
    16. Discuss the differences and interactions between the glycocalyx, basement membrane and extracellular matrix (ECM).
    17. Explain ECM functions and identify components involved in those functions
    18. Describe how the molecular structure of fibronectin supports its different functions.
    19. Describe some structural relationships between cell surfaces and the cytoskeleton.
    20. Compare and contrast the structures and functions of the different cell junctions.
    21. Distinguish between the structures and functions of cadherins, clathrin, COPs, adaptin, selectins, SNAREs and CAMs.
    22. State an hypothesis to explain why some cancer cells divide without forming a tumor

    This page titled 17.1: Introduction is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Gerald Bergtrom.

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