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The Process of Glucose Transport Across a Cell Wall: Study Help

written by: Sylvia Cini • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 6/6/2012

The glucose transport over a cell wall happens in an instant. Sugar molecules are herded by protein which expands, engulfs, and changes shape to push glucose past the lipid bilayer. All in an instant. In over 100 trillion different cells. Isn't science cool? Learn more here.

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    Passive transport is one type of cell transport. This method:

    • passes molecules through the lipid bilayer, the thin membrane that makes up most of the cell wall,
    • uses no cell energy, unlike active transport,
    • and moves molecules from areas of high concentration to low.

    Glucose, a simple sugar that your body uses for energy, is brought into cells by a type of passive transport called facilitated diffusion.

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    Diffusion

    Simple diffusion is the primary type of passive transport in which substances travel through the cell membrane, passing individually through the lipid bilayer. Facilitated diffusion is performed when molecules cannot pass through the lipid bilayer on their own. In these instances, helpful proteins, called pumps or transporters, provide safe passage through the cell wall and into the cytoplasm.

    Moving At The Movies

    When you go to the movies, you are acting like a molecule entering a cell.

    You, the audience member, are necessary--but there is a limit to how many people can be seated at one time and not everyone is allowed into every show. The ushers and ticket booth act like the cell membrane and helpful proteins, making sure that everyone with a ticket gets in to the right movie theater. As you know, your ticket only allows you to go through certain doors. So if you try to go into the wrong theater, you will be blocked or redirected.

    Just like molecules moving into/out of a cell.

    If the wrong molecule tries to move through the lipid bilayer, it will be blocked. The cell membrane, pumps and transporter proteins make sure that each molecule goes in and out of the cell a certain way. They keep track of the molecule traffic and adjust other cell activities accordingly.

    The ability to allow certain molecules and block others is called selective permeability.

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    The Process of Glucose Transport

    Glucose cannot go through the lipid bilayer because it is water-soluble. (It doesn't have a ticket to the bilayer show.) So it enters cells with the help of a carrier proteins called a GluT transporter.

    The GluT transporter acts like an usher, guiding the glucose safely through the cell wall and into the cytoplasm.

    Here are a few things to remember about glucose transport:

    • Glucose is transported by facilitated diffusion.
    • The protein that moves glucose is called a GlutT transporter.
    • The GlutT transporter changes shape to enclose and transport the sugar safely through the cell membrane.
    • Glucose cannot enter a cell from any location; it must meet at a specific point with a protein.
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    Resources

    More About Cell Transport

    • Biology 4 Kids: Looking At Cell Functions (http://www.biology4kids.com/files/cell2_main.html)
    • Transport In And Out Of Cells (http://www2.estrellamountain.edu/faculty/farabee/biobk/biobooktransp.html)
    • Bio Review: Cell Transport (http://library.thinkquest.org/28751/review/cells/5.html)
    • YouTube: Cell Membrane Passive Transport (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JShwXBWGMyY)

    More About Cells:

    • National Center for Biotechnology Information : What Is A Cell? (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/About/primer/genetics_cell.html)
    • Livestrong: How Is Hydrogen Used In The Body (http://www.livestrong.com/article/28599-hydrogen-used-body/)

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