New search
download case
  • Overview
  • Teaching Notes
  • Answer Key
  • Supplemental Materials
  • Videos
  • Comments/Replies

A Different Kind of Stress

Protein Trafficking and the Unfolded Protein Response


Karen S. Huffman
Math and Science Department
Genesee Community College


Protein folding and trafficking is essential for normal cell function, and when it goes awry it can lead to various chronic conditions, including fatty liver disease, diabetes, and Parkinson's. The narrative of this case study follows two undergraduate students engaged in a summer research project evaluating the effects of cell stress on cell function and health in the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans).  During the case study, students review animal cell organelle function and then learn about endoplasmic stress and unfolded protein response. Prior knowledge needed for the case is basic animal cell organelles and their functions and use of model organisms in research. The case was designed for a flipped classroom in which students prepare in advance by taking a quiz and watching two videos; a PowerPoint animation is also included. Originally written for a non-majors biology class, the case could also be used for a first year majors' class.

  • Understand and explain basic animal organelles and their functions.
  • Describe the process and function of protein trafficking.
  • Describe the outcomes of endoplasmic stress and unfolded protein response.
  • Explain apoptosis.
  • Explain the association of disease and disruption to normal organelle functions.
Keywords: Organelles; protein trafficking; protein folding; unfolded protein response; apoptosis; model organism; endoplasmic stress; C. elegans
Topical Area: N/A
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Directed, Flipped, Interrupted
Language: English
Subject Headings: Biology (General)   Cell Biology   Molecular Biology  
Date Posted: 1/22/2016
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

Teaching Notes

Case teaching notes are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering here.

Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

  Download Teaching Notes

Answer Key

Answer keys for the cases in our collection are password-protected and access to them is limited to paid subscribed instructors. To become a paid subscriber, begin the process by registering here.

  Get Answer Key

Supplemental Materials

Students view the following PowerPoint presentation during Part III of the case.

  Normal Protein Trafficking and the Unfolded Protein Response


The following video(s) are recommended for use in association with this case study.

  C. elegans Movement
This video shows normal Caenorhabditis elegans movement. Running time: 5:27 min. Uploaded to YouTube by BioRadLifeScience, 2013.

  Protein Trafficking Through the Golgi
This video provides an overview of protein movement from the rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER) to the Golgi for modification. Running time: 3:27 min. Produced by Virtual Cell Project, Virtual Cell Animation Collection, Molecular and Cellular Biology Learning Center, North Dakota State University.

City State:
security code
Enter Security Code: