When you have completed this section, you should be able to
• describe the structure of a plasma membrane;
• explain the functions of the lipid, protein, and carbohydrate components of the plasma membrane;
• describe a second-messenger system and discuss its importance in human physiology;
• describe the composition and functions of the glycocalyx that coats cell surfaces; and
• describe the structure and functions of microvilli, cilia, and flagella.
Throughout this book, you will find that many of the most physiologically important processes occur at the surface of a cell—such events as immune responses, the binding of egg and sperm, cell-to-cell signaling by hormones, and the detection of tastes and smells, for example. A sub stantial part of this chapter is therefore concerned with the cell surface. We will examine the structure of the plasma membrane, surface features such as cilia and microvilli, and methods of transport through the membrane before we venture into the interior of the cell.
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This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.