A history of the scientific research on biological cell membranes

The cell plasma membrane mediates the interactions between a cell and its surroundings, including cell adhesion, cell-cell recognition, nutrient uptake, and signal transduction. To coordinate these functions, the plasma membranes of mammalian cells are organized into distinct domains of differing protein and lipid composition. Although the plasma membrane is composed of hundreds of different lipid and protein species, many scientists believe that interactions between just a few components, namely cholesterol and sphingolipids, are very important for this organization.

A history of the scientific research on biological cell membranes

With the exception of some viruses, all living things depend in one way or another on membranes. They surround cells and separate cellular contents from the external environment. Membranes also form special spaces, or compartments, within the cytoplasm that separate various cellular processes.

Without membranes, life as we know it would likely not exist.

Membrane structure

Today we know a great deal about membranes, but it was not always so. The story of how we came to understand membranes, however, begins not with biology, but with chemistry and the study of lipids i.

It has been noted that one of the first to write of the effects of oil on water was Pliny the Elder. In his encyclopedic work, Natural History, Pliny observed that ".

In the centuries that followed the idea that oil calmed troubled waters became a part of folklore. During a stay in England in Franklin conducted an experiment on the effects of oil on the surface of water. He added a small amount of oil to the water in a small pond in Clapham Common.

Immediately he noticed that the oil spread in a thin film over the surface of the water until a large portion of the pond was "smooth as a looking glass" Tanford Raliegh, originally John William Strutt, had attended Cambridge University, majoring in mathematics and physics.

After graduation he held various scientific appoint-ments, including the prestigious Professor of Natural Philosophy at the Royal Institution in London.

In Lord Raleigh conducted a series of quantitative experiments with oil and water. He was able to carefully measure the area to which a known volume of oil would expand and also calculated the thickness of the oil film Tanford His results were published, but noticed by only a few experts in the field.

The following year, however, he received a letter from a German woman named Agnes Pockels, describing some experiments that she had conducted in her kitchen.

Agnes Pockels, it seems, had developed on her own with little training and support from others in the scientific establishment, a device for carefully measuring the exact area of an oil film. Lord Raleigh assisted Agnes Pockels in publishing her results, the first of fourteen scientific articles she published.

Her greatest contribution to science, however, was likely the device that she invented, which is still used today by chemists and physicists studying surface phenomena Tanford At about the same time that Lord Raleigh was experimenting with oil films, Charles Ernest Overton was working on a doctoral degree in botany at the University of Zurich.

As it happened, Overton discovered quite acciden-tally, some important properties of membranes. His research was related to heredity in plants and in order to complete his studies he needed to find substances that would be readily absorbed into plant cells.

He found that the ability of a substance to pass through the membrane was related to its chemical nature. Nonpolar substances, Overton discovered, would pass quickly through the membrane into the cell.

This discovery was quite contrary to the prevalent view at the time that the membrane was impermeable to almost anything but water. Based on his studies of how various molecules pass through the membrane, Overton published a preliminary hypothesis in which he proposed: At the time, however, there was considerable opposition to Overton, and his ideas Tanford Further research on the nature of oil films was conducted by Irving Langmuir.

Trained in physical chemistry, Langmuir worked in the laboratories of General Electric doing research on molecular monolayers. His research eventually turned to lipids and the interaction of oil films with water.

Using an improved version of the apparatus originally developed by Agnes Pockels generally referred to today as a Langmuir troughhe was able to make careful measurements of surface areas occupied by known quantities of oil.

Langmuir published only one paper on molecular monolayers Langmuir He proposed that the fatty acid molecules form a monolayer by orienting themselves vertically with the hydrocarbon chains away from the water and the carboxyl groups in contact with the surface of the water.

As it turns out, this was a key piece in the puzzle of understanding lipid bilayers and membranes as well.In the early stages of the twentieth century, little was known about cell membranes.

Until the early s, the biological cell membrane was rarely mentioned in scientific literature.

Membranes I | Biology | Quiz | Visionlearning

It was recognised that something was probably there, but hardly anything about it was known. Considering the lack of. Abstract. Although egg cells are visible to the naked eye, the history of cell biology is closely coupled to that of microscopy.

Cell membranes are much more than passive barriers; they are complex and dynamic structures that control what enters and leaves the cell. This module explores how scientists came to understand cell membranes, including the experiments that led to the development of the fluid-mosaic model of membrane structure. The module describes how the components and structure of cell membranes . The History of the Cell Membrane, a timeline made with Timetoast's free interactive timeline making software. The cell membrane allows water-insoluble molecules to pass freely, but severely restricts the flow of water-soluble molecules and ions. b. The bilayer is single-ply in some cell membranes. c. The cell membrane allows water-soluble molecules to pass, but restricts the flow of lipids. d. Proteins in the membrane float freely as if in a fluid mosaic.

In nearly years, cell research has produced an extraordinary rich panorama of studies, concepts and representations. Amphipathic nature of cell membranes. Since , we have learned a great deal about the molecular components of biological membranes and our current understanding of the very complex and dynamic nature of membranes is a far cry from the static film that was once imagined.

By far, the most important structural feature of the membrane is the amphipathic nature of the lipids that make up the.

A history of the scientific research on biological cell membranes

Take these well-thought-out cell biology research project topics and don't waste time any longer. For example, today, you were given an assignment. The task is to write a project on cell biology, and like the majority of students, you believe in your ability to write creatively and accurately.

The fluid-mosaic membrane model as a scientific fact.

Membrane Function

What the model says To understand the current model of biological membranes, one has to know the history of the study of cell membranes, both from a structural and functional point of view.

Early developments. Biological membranes are the lipid bilayers made of different types of lipids, including a majority of phospholipids, and with some amount of glycolipids and sterols and membrane proteins. Biological membranes are present in the cell of every living organism where they act as a barrier to separate cellular environment from the external environment.

History of Cell Biology