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Newsflash! Transport Proteins on Strike!


Dianne W. York

Siemens Diagnostic Healthcare


This role-play case study teaches students about plasma membrane transport and the functions of transport proteins in the phospholipid bilayer. Students act out the parts of molecules and structures in a fantastical cellular world where the unionized transport proteins have called for a work stoppage. The concepts of diffusion, facilitated diffusion, osmosis, and active transport are discussed. Written for an undergraduate non-majors human biology course, the case is also suitable for general biology, cell biology, anatomy and physiology, and high school biology.


  • Explain the primary functions of the plasma membrane.
  • Describe the structure of the phospholipid bilayer.
  • Differentiate between active transport and passive transport.
  • Explain the role of transport proteins and how they function.
  • Name the types of substances that can pass freely through the plasma membrane and those that require the assistance of transport proteins.
  • Describe how osmosis is different from diffusion and explain what will happen to the cell under various tonicities.
  • Explain how the transport of substances across the plasma membrane affects major functions of organ systems, including the cardiovascular system, the respiratory system, the nervous system, and the digestive system.


Plasma membrane; transport protein; diffusion; facilitated diffusion; active transport; osmosis; membrane transport; cell

Topical Areas


Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division



Type / Methods




Subject Headings

Biology (General)  |   Cell Biology  |   Physiology  |   Biochemistry  |   Science (General)  |  

Date Posted


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Gary Christopher
Physical Education
William Penn University
Oskaloosa, IA
This is FANTASTIC. I'm going to have some fun with my A&P classes this coming semester. Thank you.

Elisa Whitman
Stonington High School
Pawcatuck, CT
What great timing!! I teach high school 9th grade Biology Honors and we're just finishing up the cell membrane when we return after break on January 3rd. My students will love this. Thanks and Happy New Year!!

Kulsum Motara

Maths & Science Deaprtment
Dhahran Ahliyya Schools
Al Khobar
Fantastic! I have just finished teaching cellular transport and my students are going to love this. I will use this after the break as this will really engage them. Thank you.