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fluid mosaic model

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A model that describes the structure of cell membranes. In this model, a flexible layer made of lipid molecules is interspersed with large protein molecules that act as channels through which other molecules enter and leave the cell.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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What is the fluid mosaic model?

The fluid mosaic model is a way of describing the structure of cell membranes. The model likens the membrane to a “mosaic” of different components, consisting of a fluid or elastic double layer made up of lipid molecules and large protein molecules.

The cell membrane is the thin layer that encloses a cell’s cytoplasm, which is the substance between its membrane and its nucleus. The cell membrane allows beneficial things to pass through while blocking harmful ones from entering. Lipids and proteins are the basic building blocks of living cells. They move fluidly in the cell membrane and function like a system of gates, giving the membrane its ability to allow molecules to pass through.

In the study of biology, the fluid mosaic model is the consensus view of how to understand membranes. It is a foundation of understanding cell structures.

Why is the fluid mosaic model important?

The fluid mosaic model was developed by cell biologist S. J. Singer and biochemist Garth L. Nicolson in 1972. It has evolved somewhat since then, but it is now the most accepted way to understand the structure and function of the cell membrane.

To understand why the cell membrane is important, you first have to understand what it does. In essence, the cell membrane serves as the glue that holds the components of the cell together and protects it from outside threats. The membrane regulates what comes into the cell. This is why we call the membrane semipermeable. Among other things, it keeps potentially harmful substances out and keeps nutrients in.

The makeup of the cell membrane (its mosaic) includes three crucial components: phospholipids, cholesterol, and proteins. The phospholipids attract and repel water. The layer created by these opposing forces is known as the phospholipid bilayer. It’s responsible for creating the spaces within the membrane and making it a good barrier. Proteins help with transporting cell components across the barrier. Cholesterol also helps with this regulation.

Did you know ... ?

The cell membrane, whose structure is described in the fluid mosaic model, is also called the plasma membrane or the plasmalemma.

What are real-life examples of fluid mosaic model?

The fluid mosaic model is the standard for understanding the function and structure of cell membranes. It’s familiar to many biology students.

 

Quiz yourself!

True or False?

The fluid mosaic model states that a cell membrane does not allow anything to pass through.

How to use fluid mosaic model in a sentence

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