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Category Archives: Biology

Chemical Nature of the Amino Acids

Image Ref: http://supersuga.wordpress.com

All peptides and polypeptides are polymers of α-amino acids. There are 20 α-amino acids that are relevant to the make-up of mammalian proteins (see below). Several other amino acids are found in the body free or in combined states (i.e. not associated with peptides or proteins). These non-protein associated amino acids perform specialized functions. Several of the amino acids found in proteins also serve functions distinct from the formation of peptides and proteins, e.g., tyrosine in the formation of thyroid hormones or glutamate acting as a neurotransmitter. (more…)

Membrane Channels

structure of a typical aquaporin

The definition of a channel (or a pore) is that of a protein structure that facilitates the translocation of molecules or ions across the membrane through the creation of a central aqueous channel in the protein. This central channel facilitates diffusion in both directions dependent upon the direction of the concentration gradient. Channel proteins do not bind or sequester the molecule or ion that is moving through the channel. Specificity of channels for ions or molecules is a function of the size and charge of the substance. The flow of molecules through a channel can be regulated by various mechanisms that result in opening or closing of the passageway.

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Activities of Biological Membranes

Image Ref: http://www.mansfield.ohio-state.edu

Although biological membranes contain various types of lipids and proteins, their distribution between the two different sides of the bilayer is asymmetric. As a general example the outer surface of the bilayer is enriched in phosphatidylethanolamine, whereas the intracellular surface is enriched in phosphatidylcholine. Carbohydrates, whether attached to lipid or protein, are almost exclusively found on the external surfaces of membranes. The asymmetric distribution of lipids and proteins in membranes results in the generation of highly specialized sub-domains within membranes. In addition, there are highly specialized membrane structures such as the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), the Golgi apparatus and vesicles. The most important vesicles are those that contain secreted factors. Membrane bound proteins (e.g. growth factor receptors) are processed as they transit through the ER to the Golgi apparatus and finally to the plasma membrane. As these proteins transit to the surface of the cell they undergo a series of processing events that includes glycosylation.

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Composition and Structure of Biological Membranes

As indicated above, biological membranes are composed of lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates. The carbohydrates of membranes are attached either to lipid forming glycolipids of various classes, or to proteins formingglycoproteins. The lipid and protein compositions of membranes vary from cell type to cell type as well as within the various intracellular compartments that are defined by intracellular membranes. Protein concentrations can range from around 20% to as much as 70% of the total mass of a particular membrane.

structure of the lipid bilayer of a typical plasma membrane

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Introduction to Biological Membranes

Biological membranes are composed of lipid, protein and carbohydrate that exist in a fluid state. Biological membranes are the structures that define and control the composition of the space that they enclose. All membranes exist as dynamic structures whose composition changes throughout the life of a cell. In addition to the outer membrane that results in the formation of a typical cell (this membrane is often referred to as the plasma membrane), cells contain intracellular membranes that serve distinct functions in the formation of the various intracellular organelles, e.g. the nucleus and the mitochondria.

Ref: http://themedicalbiochemistrypage.org

Cellular Organization

Image Courtesy: http://edtech2.boisestate.edu

Cells are the smallest structural unit of living organisms, capable of maintaining life and reproducing.  Viruses are not cells because they cannot maintain life and reproduce by themselves.

Although a nerve cell looks entirely different from a red blood cell (Figure 1-A-1), their organizations are essentially the same.  Even plant cells and animal cells share significant similarity in the overall organization.

Figure 1-A-1.  Schematic drawing of a nerve cell and a red blood cell.

 

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Major topics Highligthed

Topics covered in biology for nursing includes:

  • Scientific Process: basis for critical thinking
  • Chemistry of life: Atom, Molecule and macro molecule
  • The cell: animal and plants
  • Cell Membrane: sandwich bi layer phospholipid
  • Cell organelle
  • Transport membrane
  • Cellular respiration
  • Metabolism
  • Genetic material
  • Etc