Science Questions and Answers

Start Your Free Trial

Why is the 'fluid mosaic membrane' model appropriate for a cell membrane?

Expert Answers info

jerichorayel eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2012

write937 answers

starTop subjects are Science, Math, and Social Sciences

Fluid mosaic model was designed by Singer and Nicholson in 1972 to describe the features of biological membranes. They wanted to picture out the the structure of the cell membrane in its most simple way.

1. The called it fluid because of the hydrophobic tails of the lipid membrane tend to sway sideways or lateral in the cell membrane. This makes the membrane more like of a liquid (fluid) than solid.

2. it is termed as mosaic because similar to a mosaic, it is composed of irregular shapes and structures of proteins, fats, phospholipids, glycoproteins, cholesterol, lipoproteins, etc. These structures tend to be visualized as patches of colors similar to a mosaic art.



check Approved by eNotes Editorial

pranitingale | Student

While the phospholipids are held in a bilayer, scientists believe the plasma membrane as a whole is a fluid structure because phospholipid molecules and some proteins can move sideways within the membrane.

In one second, a single phospholipid molecule can travel the length of a large bacterial cell. Proteins drift more slowly through the membrane. With protein molecules scattered among the phospholipid molecules, the plasma membrane appears to be a mosaic of phospholipids and proteins.

♣ Some of the proteins are found on the inner or outer surface of the plasma membrane, while others span the membrane and protrude on either end. Scientists refer to this concept of the plasma membrane’s structure as the fluid mosaic model.