Active Transport

Free Response

Where does the cell get energy for active transport processes?


The cell harvests energy from ATP produced by its own metabolism to power active transport processes, such as the activity of pumps.

How does the sodium-potassium pump contribute to the net negative charge of the interior of the cell?


The sodium-potassium pump forces out three (positive) Na+ ions for every two (positive) K+ ions it pumps in, thus the cell loses a positive charge at every cycle of the pump.

Glucose from digested food enters intestinal epithelial cells by active transport. Why would intestinal cells use active transport when most body cells use facilitated diffusion?


Intestinal epithelial cells use active transport to fulfill their specific role as the cells that transfer glucose from the digested food to the bloodstream. Intestinal cells are exposed to an environment with fluctuating glucose levels. Immediately after eating, glucose in the gut lumen will be high, and could accumulate in intestinal cells by diffusion. However, when the gut lumen is empty, glucose levels are higher in the intestinal cells. If glucose moved by facilitated diffusion, this would cause glucose to flow back out of the intestinal cells and into the gut. Active transport proteins ensure that glucose moves into the intestinal cells, and cannot move back into the gut. It also ensures that glucose transport continues to occur even if high levels of glucose are already present in the intestinal cells. This maximizes the amount of energy the body can harvest from food.

The sodium/calcium exchanger (NCX) transports sodium into and calcium out of cardiac muscle cells. Describe why this transporter is classified as secondary active transport.


The NCX moves sodium down its electrochemical gradient into the cell. Since sodium’s electrochemical gradient is created by the Na+/K+ pump, a transport pump that requires ATP hydrolysis to establish the gradient, the NCX is a secondary active transport process.