By John L. Tymoczko
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Extra info for Biochemistry: A Short Course
4 Membranes Define the Cell and Carry Out Cellular Functions Membranes, formed of lipid bilayers, are crucial for establishing boundaries between cells and their environment and for establishing boundaries within internal regions of many cells. There are two structurally distinct types of cells: eukaryotic cells and prokaryotic cells. Eukaryotic cells are characterized by a complex array of intracellular membrane-bounded compartments called organelles. The nucleus is the largest organelle and houses the genetic information of the cell.
4 Membranes Define the Cell and Carry Out Cellular Functions The cell is the basic unit of life. Cells can grow, replicate, and interact with their environment. Living organisms can be as simple as a single cell or as complex as a human body, which is composed of approximately 100 trillion cells. Every cell is delineated by a membrane that separates the inside of the cell from its environment. 9). 9 The bilayer structure of a membrane. (A) Membranes are composed of two layers or sheets. (B) The hydrophobic parts of the layers interact with each other, and the hydrophilic parts interact with the environment.
This process is called endocytosis, which is the opposite of exocytosis. Endocytosis is used to bring important biochemicals such as iron ions, vitamin B12, and cholesterol into the cell. 19). Alternatively, large amounts of material also can be taken into the cell. When large amounts of material are taken into the cell, the process is called phagocytosis. 20 shows an immune-system cell called a macrophage phagocytizing a bacterium. Macrophages phagocytize bacteria as a means of protecting an organism from infection.