Difference between Cell Membrane and Plasma Membrane

Cell membrane and Plasma membrane are two terms which are used interchangeably. Both the cell membranes and plasma membranes enclose a cell and all its contents. These membranes have a selective permeability which controls the transport of substances across the membrane.

What is a Cell membrane

The cell membrane is the outermost layer of the cell that surrounds the complete contents of a cell, including the endoplasmic reticulum, nucleus, cytoplasm, mitochondria, and all other organelles. It consists of a phospholipid bilayer and the integral proteins which provide pathways for the molecules to move through the membrane. In the animal cell, these cell membrane acts as the barrier between the inner contents of the cell and the external environment. The main function of a cell membrane includes, regulation of entry and exits within the cell, provides shape to the cell and ensures that the cell organelles do not flow away from the cell.

What is a Plasma membrane

The plasma membrane is an essential membrane of the cell which plays an important role in the separation of the interior organelles of the cells from the external environment. The plasma membrane is a tough, rigid and flexible layer, found surrounding the cellular compartments. They are mainly involved in the membranes formation of the other organelles and also controls the transportation of substances across the membrane. The plasma membranes have numerous functions and are mainly depended on their site of location.

In all eukaryotic cells, the cell membrane and the plasma membrane both differ in their structure and functions. Listed below are the key differences between the cell membrane and plasma membrane.

Difference Between Cell Membrane and Plasma Membrane

Cell Membrane

Plasma Membrane

It is a semipermeable membrane.

It is a semipermeable barrier.

Surrounds the cytoplasm of the cell.

Surrounds the cellular compartments.

The cell wall is composed of a phospholipid bilayer with embedded proteins.

The composition of the plasma membrane may change based on the requirements of the cellular compartments.

Visible through the electron microscope.

Visible through the light microscope.

It encloses the entire cell.

It encloses cellular organelles.

Presence of initial receptors for the process of transmitting the signals.

Absence of initial receptors.

Play an important role in cytokinesis during cell division.

Not involved in the process of cell division.

Can be targeted by antimicrobial agents.

Cannot be targeted by antimicrobial agents.

Cilia are present and are involved in feeding and movement.

Cilia are absent.

Involved in regulating tonicity of the cell.

Not involved in the process of tonicity.

Play an important role in protecting the cell from bacterial and viral intrusion.

Does not always protect the organelles against the foreign invaders.

Stay tuned with BYJU’S to know more in detail about the cell membrane and plasma membrane.


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