The definitions used in this glossary of terminology either have been provided by the authors of the articles, or have been extracted wholly or in part, or paraphrased from the following sources: The American Medical Association Encyclopedia of Medicine, Charles B. Clayman, MD, Medical Editor, Random House, New York, 1989; Biotechnology from A to Z, 2d Edition, William Bains, Oxford University Press, New York, New York, 2002; A Dictionary of Genetics, 6th Edition, Robert C. King and William D. Stansfield, Oxford University Press, New York, New York, 2002; Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary, 29th and 30th Editions, W. B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia, 2000, 2003; Genes VII, Benjamin Lewin, Oxford University Press, New York, New York, 2000; The Gale Encyclopedia of Genetic Disorders, Volumes I and II, Stacey L. Blachford, Ed., Thomson Learning, New York, New York, 2002; The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Inc., Springfield, Massachusetts, 1997; Molecular Biology of the Cell, 3rd Edition, Bruce Alberts, et al., Garland Publishing, 1994; The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged Edition, 1966; Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, 1991.


A thin layer of tissue which covers a surface, lines a cavity, or divides a space or organ.

apical membrane - Pertaining to or located at the apex.

basolateral membrane - Pertaining to the base and sides.

plasma membrane - The structure enveloping a cell, enclosing the cytoplasm, and forming a selective permeability barrier; it consists of lipids, proteins, and some carbohydrates, the lipids thought to form a bilayer in which integral proteins are embedded to varying degrees.

postsynaptic membrane - The area of plasma membrane of a postsynaptic cell, either a muscle fiber or a neuron, that is within the synapse and has areas especially adapted for receiving neurotransmitters.

presynaptic membrane - Area of the plasma membrane of a presynaptic axon that is within the synapse and has sites (active zones) especially adapted for the release of neurotransmitters.

semipermeable membrane - A membrane that permits the passage of a solvent, such as water, but prevents the passage of the dissolved substance, or solute.

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