Glucose Transport in Cultured Animal Cells: An Exercise for the Undergraduate Cell Biology Laboratory.
Ledbetter MLS, Lippert MJ
Cell Biology Education (2002)
Category: teaching ¤ Added: Nov 13, 2002 ¤ Rating: ◊◊
Membrane transport is a fundamental concept that undergraduate students of cell biology understand better with laboratory experience. Formal teaching exercises commonly used to illustrate this concept are unbiological, qualitative, or intricate and time consuming to prepare.We have developed an exercise that uses uptake of radiolabeled nutrient analogues by attachment-dependent animal cells cultured on multiwell trays. This system can readily be manipulated within a typical 3-h laboratory period to yield reproducible, biologically relevant, quantitative data regarding key aspects of membrane transport. Each 24-well tray of cultures allows a group of two to four students to compare eight conditions in triplicate. If different groups of students test different conditions or different types of cells, data can be shared for an even broader experience. The exercise is also readily adaptable for open-ended student projects. Here we illustrate the exercise measuring uptake of the nonmetabolizable glucose analogue [3H]-2-deoxy-D-glucose. Students successfully tested the effects of competing sugars, putative inhibitors of the GLUT1 transporter, and changes in cell physiology that might be expected to affect glucose transport in epithelial cells and fibroblasts. In this exercise students find the nutritional and medical implications of glucose transport and its regulation intriguing. They also learn to handle radioisotopes and cultured cells.