External to the plasma membrane, all animal cells have a fuzzy coat called the glycocalyx8 (GLY-co-CAY-licks) (fig. 3.10), which consists of the carbohydrate moieties sglyco = sugar + calyx = cup, vessel sglyco = sugar + calyx = cup, vessel
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of the membrane glycolipids and glycoproteins. It is chemically unique in everyone but identical twins, and acts like an identification tag that enables the body to distinguish its own healthy cells from transplanted tissues, invading organisms, and diseased cells. Human blood types and transfusion compatibility are determined by glycoproteins. The glycocalyx includes the cell-adhesion molecules that enable cells to adhere to each other and guide the movement of cells in embryonic development. The functions of the glycocalyx are summarized in table 3.2.
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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.