How Phospholipid Molecules Are Oriented in the Plasma Membrane of a Cell

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Figuring out how phospholipid molecules are oriented in the plasma membrane will require you to pay close attention to the head. Find out how phospholipid molecules are oriented in the plasma membrane with help from an experienced science professional in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: The Marvels of Cells & DNA
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Hi, I'm Michael Maidaa and this is how phospholipid molecules are oriented in the plasma membrane. First, we'll start off with the phospholipid. There's a polar head of the phospholipid consisting of a polar molecule connected to a phosphate group. We then have a glycerol backbone. Coming off the glycerol backbone are two fatty acid tails. This part of the phospholipid called the tail is non-polar, and the top part called head is polar. So, how does this relate to plasma membrane and how is it oriented? Here are two layers of the plasma membrane. All of the polar heads of the phospholipids face the outside of the plasma membrane. Then, we have the non-polar tails coming off to face each other. So, looking at this, we have two layers. For this reason, the plasma membrane is called the phospholipid bi-layer. And to review, here we have a phospholipid molecule with a polar head and a non-polar tail. Over here is how it's oriented in the plasma membrane, with the polar heads facing the outside and the non-polar tails facing the inside. I'm Michael Maidaa and this has been, how phospholipid molecules are oriented in the plasma membrane.

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