Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Cell Membranes
Name: Carmen V.
Status: Student
Age: 14
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: November 2003


Question:
Why is it important to have cell membranes as barriers?



Replies:
I'm not quite sure what you are asking, but the cell membrane serves a very important function in defining the border of the cell. Without it, it would be like a house with no exterior walls. The cell membrane (and the proteins that are associated with it) is also very selective in what it allows to pass into or out of the cell, which is important. As a result, the interior of the cell can have different concentrations of molecules than are found in the surrounding environment.

Paul Mahoney


What if there weren't cell membranes? How could the cell control what came in and out. For that matter, why would the cell even be separate from its environment?

Van Hoeck


First off for any individual cell to be an individual cell it must have a limit to where it begins and is separated from its environment. Second the typical cell membrane is extremely complex. Thousands of scentific research papers are written each year on it. It is what decides what the cell will allow in and out, how it attaches to its surroundings and how it communicates with other cells to name a few of its main functions. It is also very dynamic and fluid. In a way the memebrane is the eyes, ears, nose and voice of a cell.

Pf



Click here to return to the Molecular Biology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory