11th Class Biology Cell - The Unit Of Life Membrane Transport

Membrane Transport

Category : 11th Class

It is passage of metabolites, by-products and biochemicals across biomembrane. Membrane transport occurs through four methods–passive, facilitated, active and bulk. Size of the particles passing through plasmalemma is generally \[115\text{ }{AA}.\]

Passive transport : No energy spent. Passive transport occurs through diffusion and osmosis.

(1) Diffusion : It is movement of particles from the region of their higher concentration or electrochemical potential to the region of their lower concentration or electrochemical potential. Electrochemical potential operates in case of charged particles like ions. Simple diffusion does not require carrier molecules.

(2) Osmosis : It is diffusion of water across a semipermeable membrane that occurs under the influence of an osmotically active solution.

Mechanism of passive transport : Passive transport can continue to occur if the absorbed solute is immobilised. Cations have a tendency to passively pass from electropositive to electronegative side. While anions can pass from electronegative to electropositive side. There are two modes of passive transport.

(1) Lipid matrix permeability : Lipid soluble substances pass through the cell membrane according to their solubility and concentration gradient, e.g., triethyl citrate, ethyl alcohol, methane.

(2) Hydrophillic membrane channels : They are narrow channels formed in the membrane by tunnel proteins. The channels make the membrane semipermeable. Water passes inwardly or outwardly from a cell through these channels according to osmotic gradients. \[C{{O}_{2}}\] and \[{{O}_{2}}\] also diffuse through these channels as per their concentration gradients.

Facilitated transport or Facilitated diffusion : It is passage of substances along the concentration gradient without expenditure of energy that occurs with the help of special permeating substances called permeases. Permeases form pathways for movement of certain substances without involving any expenditure of energy. Facilitated transport occurs in case of some sugars, amino acids and nucleotides.

Active transport : It occurs with the help of energy, usually against concentration gradient. For this, cell membranes possess carriers and gated channels. At times certain substances are transported alongwith the ones requiring active transport. The latter phenomenon called cotransport.

(1) Carrier particles or Proteins : They are integral protein particles which have affinity for specific solutes. A solute particles combines with a carrier to form carrier solute complex. The latter undergoes conformational change in such a way as to transport the solute to the inner side where it is released into cytoplasm.

(2) Gated channels : The channels are opened by either change in electrical potential or specific substances, e.g., Calcium channels.

Active transport systems are also called pumps. The pumps operate with the help of ATP.\[{{K}^{+}}-\,{{H}^{+}}\]exchange pump occurs in guard cells. \[N{{a}^{+}}-\,{{K}^{+}}\]exchange pump operates across many animal membranes.

Active transport of one substance is often accompanied by permeation of other substances. The phenomenon is called secondary active transport. It is of two main types, cotransport (e.g., glucose and some amino acids alongwith inward pushing of excess \[N{{a}^{+}})\] and counter-transport \[(C{{a}^{2+}}\]and \[{{H}^{+}}\]movement outwardly as excess \[N{{a}^{+}}\]passes inwardly).

Bulk transport : It is transport of large quantities of micromolecules, macromolecules and food particles through the membrane. It is accompanied by formation of transport or carrier vesicles. The latter are endocytotic and perform bulk transport inwardly. The phenomenon is called endocytosis. Endocytosis is of two types, pinocytosis and phagocytosis. Exocytic vesicles perform bulk transport outwardly. It is called exocytosis. Exocytosis performs secretion, excretion and ephagy.

(1) Pinocytosis : (Lewis, 1931). It is bulk intake of fluid, ions and molecules through development of small endocytotic vesicles of 100 – 200 nm in diameter. ATP, \[C{{a}^{2+}},\]fibrillar protein clathrin and contractile protein actin are required. Fluid-phase pinocytosis is also called cell drinking. After coming in contact with specific substance, the area of plasma membrane having adsorptive sites, invaginates and forms vesicle. The vesicle separates. It is called pinosome. Pinosome may burst in cytosol, come in contact with tonoplast and pass its contents into vacuole, form digestive vacuole with lysosome or deliver its contents to Golgi apparatus when it is called receptosome.

(2) Phagocytosis : (Metchnikoff, 1883). It is cell eating or ingestion of large particles by living cells, e.g., white blood corpuscles (neutrophils, monocytes), Kupffer’s cells of liver, reticular cells of spleen, histiocytes of connective tissues, macrophages, Amoeba and some other protists, feeding cells of sponges and coelenterates. Plasma membrane has receptors. As soon as the food particle comes in contact with the receptor site, the edges of the latter evaginate, form a vesicle which pinches off as phagosome.

One or more lysosomes fuse with a phagosome, form digestive vacuole or food vacuole. Digestion occurs inside the vacuole. The digested substances diffuse out, while the residual vacuole passes out, comes in contact with plasma membrane for throwing out its contents through exocytosis or ephagy.

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