Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

All-in-one learning app

  • Flashcards
  • NotesNotes
  • ExplanationsExplanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
Start studying

Active Transport

Save Save
Print Print
Edit Edit
Sign up to use all features for free. Sign up now
Biology

Active transport is the movement of molecules against their concentration gradient, using specialised carrier proteins and energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This ATP is generated from cellular metabolism and is needed to change the conformational shape of the carrier proteins.

This type of transport is different from the passive forms of transport, such as diffusion and osmosis, where molecules move down their concentration gradient. This is because active transport is an active process requiring ATP to move molecules up their concentration gradient.

Carrier proteins

Carrier proteins, which are transmembrane proteins, act as pumps to allow the passage of molecules. They have binding sites that are complementary to specific molecules. This makes carrier proteins highly selective for specific molecules.

The binding sites found in carrier proteins are similar to the binding sites we see in enzymes. These binding sites interact with a substrate molecule and this indicates the selectivity of carrier proteins.

Transmembrane proteins span the full length of a phospholipid bilayer.

Complementary proteins have active site configurations that fit their substrate configuration.

The steps involved in active transport are described below.

  1. The molecule binds to the carrier protein from one side of the cell membrane.

  2. ATP binds to the carrier protein and is hydrolysed to produce ADP and Pi (phosphate group).

  3. The Pi attaches to the carrier protein and this causes it to change its conformational shape. The carrier protein is now open to the other side of the membrane.

  4. The molecules pass through the carrier protein to the other side of the membrane.

  5. The Pi detaches from the carrier protein, causing the carrier protein to return to its original conformation.

  6. The process begins again.

Facilitated transport, which is a form of passive transport, also uses carrier proteins. However, the carrier proteins needed for active transport are different as these require ATP whereas the carrier proteins needed for facilitated diffusion do not.

Different types of active transport

The three types of active transport include:

  • Uniport
  • Symport
  • Antiport

Uniport

Uniport is the movement of one type of molecule in one direction. Note that uniport can be described in the context of both facilitated diffusion, which is the movement of a molecule down its concentration gradient, and active transport. The carrier proteins needed are called uniporters.

Active transport, uniport, StudySmarterFigure 1. The direction of movement in uniport active transport, Quisha Bustamante - StudySmarter Originals

Symport

Symport is the movement of two types of molecules in the same direction. The movement of one molecule down its concentration gradient (usually an ion) is coupled to the movement of the other molecule against its concentration gradient. The carrier proteins needed are called symporters.

Active transport, symport, StudySmarterFigure 2. The direction of movement in symport active transport, Quisha Bustamante - StudySmarter Originals

Antiport

Antiport is the movement of two types of molecules in opposite directions. The carrier proteins needed are called antiporters.

Active transport, antiport, StudySmarterFigure 3. The direction of movement in antiport active transport, Quisha Bustamante - StudySmarter Originals

Active transport in plants

Mineral uptake in plants is a process that relies on active transport. Minerals in the soil exist in their ion forms, such as magnesium, sodium, potassium and nitrate ions. These are all important for a plant's cellular metabolism, including growth and photosynthesis.

The concentration of mineral ions is lower in the soil relative to the inside of root hair cells. Due to this concentration gradient, active transport is needed to pump the minerals into the root hair cell. Carrier proteins that are selective for specific mineral ions mediate active transport; this is a form of uniport.

You can also link this process of mineral uptake to water uptake. The pumping of mineral ions into the root hair cell cytoplasm lowers the cell's water potential. This creates a water potential gradient between the soil and the root hair cell, which drives osmosis.

Osmosis is defined as the movement of water from an area of high water potential to an area of low water potential through a partially permeable membrane.

As active transport needs ATP, you can see why waterlogged plants cause issues. Waterlogged plants cannot obtain oxygen, and this severely reduces the rate of aerobic respiration. This causes less ATP to be produced and therefore, less ATP is available for the active transport needed in mineral uptake.

Active transport in animals

The sodium-potassium ATPase pumps (Na+/K+ ATPase) are abundant in nerve cells and ileum epithelial cells. This pump is an example of an antiporter. 3 Na + are pumped out of the cell for every 2 K + pumped into the cell.

The movement of ions generated from this antiporter creates an electrochemical gradient. This is extremely important for action potentials and the passage of glucose from the ileum into the blood, as we will discuss in the next section.

Active transport, Na + / K + ATPase pump, StudySmarterFigure 4. The direction of movement in the Na+/K+ ATPase pump, Quisha Bustamante - StudySmarter Originals

What is co-transport in active transport?

Co-transport, also termed secondary active transport, is a type of active transport that involves the movement of two different molecules across a membrane. The movement of one molecule down its concentration gradient, usually an ion, is coupled to the movement of another molecule against its concentration gradient.

Cotransport can be either symport and antiport, but not uniport. This is because cotransport requires two types of molecules whereas uniport only involves one type.

The cotransporter uses the energy from the electrochemical gradient to drive the passage of the other molecule. This means ATP is indirectly used for the transport of the molecule against its concentration gradient.

Glucose and sodium in the ileum

The absorption of glucose involves cotransport and this happens in the ileum epithelial cells of the small intestines. This is a form of symport as the absorption of glucose into the ileum epithelial cells involves the movement of Na+ in the same direction. This process also involves facilitated diffusion, but cotransport is especially important as facilitated diffusion is limited when an equilibrium is reached - cotransport ensures all glucose is absorbed!

This process requires three main membrane proteins:

  • Na+/ K + ATPase pump

  • Na + / glucose cotransporter pump

  • Glucose transporter

The Na+/K+ ATPase pump is located in the membrane facing the capillary. As previously discussed, 3Na+ are pumped out of the cell for every 2K+ pumped into the cell. As a result, a concentration gradient is created as the inside of the ileum epithelial cell has a lower concentration of Na+ than the ileum lumen.

The Na+/glucose cotransporter is located in the membrane of the epithelial cell facing the ileum lumen. Na+ will bind to the cotransporter alongside glucose. As a result of the Na+ gradient, Na+ will diffuse into the cell down its concentration gradient. The energy produced from this movement allows the passage of glucose into the cell against its concentration gradient.

The glucose transporter is located in the membrane facing the capillary. Facilitated diffusion allows glucose to move into the capillary down its concentration gradient.

Active transport, glucose absorption using carrier proteins, StudySmarterFigure 5. The carrier proteins involved in glucose absorption in the ileum, Quisha Bustamante - StudySmarter Originals

Adaptations of the ileum for rapid transport

As we just discussed, the ileum epithelial cells lining the small intestine are responsible for the cotransport of sodium and glucose. For rapid transport, these epithelial cells have adaptations that help increase the rate of cotransport, including:

  • A brush border made of microvilli

  • Increased density of carrier proteins

  • A single layer of epithelial cells

  • Large numbers of mitochondria

Brush border of microvilli

The brush border is a term used to describe the microvilli lining the cell surface membranes of the epithelial cells. These microvilli are finger-like projections that drastically increase the surface area, allowing for more carrier proteins to be embedded within the cell surface membrane for cotransport.

Increased density of carrier proteins

The cell surface membrane of the epithelial cells have an increased density of carrier proteins. This increases the rate of cotransport as more molecules can be transported at any given time.

Single layer of epithelial cells

There is only one single layer of epithelial cells lining the ileum. This decreases the diffusion distance of transported molecules.

Large numbers of mitochondria

The epithelial cells contain increased numbers of mitochondria which provide the ATP needed for cotransport.

What is bulk transport?

Bulk transport is the movement of larger particles, usually macromolecules like proteins, into or out of a cell through the cell membrane. This form of transport is needed as some macromolecules are too large for membrane proteins to allow their passage.

Endocytosis

Endocytosis is the bulk transport of cargo into cells. The steps involved are discussed below.

  1. The cell membrane surrounds the cargo (invagination.

  2. The cell membrane traps the cargo in a vesicle.

  3. The vesicle pinches off and moves into the cell, carrying the cargo inside.

There are three main types of endocytosis:

Phagocytosis

Phagocytosis describes the engulfment of large, solid particles, such as pathogens. Once pathogens are entrapped inside a vesicle, the vesicle will fuse with a lysosome. This is an organelle containing hydrolytic enzymes that will break down the pathogen.

Pinocytosis

Pinocytosis occurs when the cell engulfs liquid droplets from the extracellular environment. This is so that the cell can extract as many nutrients as it can from its surroundings.

Receptor-mediated endocytosis

Receptor-mediated endocytosis is a more selective form of uptake. Receptors embedded in the cell membrane have a binding site that is complementary to a specific molecule. Once the molecule has attached to its receptor, endocytosis is initiated. This time, the receptor and the molecule are engulfed into a vesicle.

Exocytosis

Exocytosis is the bulk transport of cargo out of cells. The steps involved are outlined below.

  1. Vesicles containing the cargo of molecules to be exocytosed fuse with the cell membrane.

  2. The cargo inside of the vesicles is emptied out into the extracellular environment.

Exocytosis takes place in the synapse as this process is responsible for the release of neurotransmitters from the presynaptic nerve cell.

Differences between diffusion and active transport

You will come across different forms of molecular transport and you may confuse them with each other. Here, we will outline the main differences between diffusion and active transport:

  • Diffusion involves the movement of molecules down their concentration gradient. Active transport involves the movement of molecules up their concentration gradient.
  • Diffusion is a passive process as it requires no energy expenditure. Active transport is an active process as it requires ATP.
  • Diffusion does not require the presence of carrier proteins. Active transport requires the presence of carrier proteins.

Diffusion is also known as simple diffusion.

Active Transport - Key takeaways

  • Active transport is the movement of molecules against their concentration gradient, using carrier proteins and ATP. Carrier proteins are transmembrane proteins that hydrolyse ATP to change its conformational shape.
  • The three types of active transport methods include uniport, symport and antiport. They use uniporter, symporter and antiporter carrier proteins, respectively.
  • Mineral uptake in plants and action potentials in nerve cells are examples of processes that rely on active transport in organisms.
  • Cotransport (secondary active transport) involves the movement of one molecule down its concentration gradient coupled to the movement of another molecule against its concentration gradient. Glucose absorption in the ileum uses symport cotransport.
  • Bulk transport, a type of active transport, is the movement of larger macromolecules into our out of the cell through the cell membrane. Endocytosis is the bulk transport of molecules into the cell while exocytosis is the bulk transport of molecules out of a cell.

Active Transport

Active transport is the movement of a molecule against its concentration gradient, using carrier proteins and energy in the form of ATP.

Active transport requires energy in the form of ATP. This ATP comes from cellular respiration. The hydrolysis of ATP provides the energy needed to transport molecules against their concentration gradient.

Active transport requires a membrane as specialised membrane proteins, carrier proteins, are needed to transport molecules against their concentration gradient.

Active transport is the movement of molecules up their concentration gradient, while diffusion is the movement of molecules down their concentration gradient. 


Active transport is an active process that requires energy in the form of ATP, while diffusion is a passive process that does not require any energy. 


Active transport requires specialised membrane proteins, while diffusion does not require any membrane proteins.

The three types of active transport include uniport, symport and antiport. 


Uniport is the movement of one type of molecule in one direction. 


Symport is the movement of two types of molecules in the same direction - the movement of one molecule down its concentration gradient is coupled to the movement of the other molecules against its concentration gradient. 


Antiport is the movement of two types of molecules in opposite directions.

Final Active Transport Quiz

Question

Define active transport.

Show answer

Answer

Active transport is the movement of molecules against their concentration gradient, using carrier proteins and energy in the form of ATP.

Show question

Question

Carrier proteins are _______ proteins, as they span the length of the cell membrane. 


Show answer

Answer

Transmembrane.

Show question

Question

Where does ATP hydrolysis take place in active transport, and what is the importance of this?


Show answer

Answer

ATP hydrolysis takes place in the carrier protein. This is important as the Pi resulting from ATP hydrolysis attaches to the carrier protein, allowing the carrier protein to change its conformational shape. This enables the molecule to be pumped to the other side of the cell membrane.

Show question

Question

What other process, other than active transport, involves carrier proteins?


Show answer

Answer

Facilitated diffusion.

Show question

Question

What are the three types of active transport?


Show answer

Answer

Uniport, symport and antiport.

Show question

Question

What is uniport?


Show answer

Answer

Uniport is the movement of one type of molecule in one direction.

Show question

Question

What is symport?


Show answer

Answer

Symport is the movement of two types of molecules in the same direction. The movement of one molecule down its concentration gradient is coupled to the movement of the other molecule against its concentration gradient.

Show question

Question

What is antiport?


Show answer

Answer

Antiport is the movement of two types of molecules in opposite directions.

Show question

Question

Why does mineral uptake in plants rely on active transport?


Show answer

Answer

The concentration of mineral ions in the soil is less than the concentration of mineral ions in the plant root hair cell. This concentration means that the mineral ions need to be pumped against their concentration gradient into the plant root hair cell.

Show question

Question

In terms of active transport, what is the problem with waterlogged plants?

Show answer

Answer

Waterlogged plants cannot obtain sufficient oxygen for cellular respiration. This means less ATP is produced, and thus less ATP is available for active transport in mineral uptake.

Show question

Question

What kind of carrier protein is the Na + / K + ATPase pump? Describe what the Na + / K + ATPase pump transports. 


Show answer

Answer

To antiporter. 


The Na + / K + ATPase pump transports 3 Na + out of the cell and two K + into the cell.

Show question

Question

What is cotransport?

Show answer

Answer

Cotransport (also called secondary active transport) occurs when the movement of one molecule down its concentration gradient is coupled to the movement of another molecule against its concentration gradient.

Show question

Question

What are the three kinds of transport that occur in glucose absorption in the ileum? Identify the membrane protein responsible for each type. 


Show answer

Answer

Active transport by the Na + / K + ATPase pump. 


Co-transport (symport) by the Na + / glucose cotransporter pump. 


Facilitated diffusion by glucose transporters.

Show question

Question

Define bulk transport and the two types of bulk transport.

Show answer

Answer

Bulk transport is the movement of large macromolecules into or out of cells. The two types of bulk transport include endocytosis and exocytosis.

Show question

Question

What is endocytosis? Describe the steps involved. 


Show answer

Answer

Endocytosis is the bulk transport of molecules into cells. 


The cell membrane will invaginate around the molecules and enclose them into a vesicle. 


The vesicle will move into the cell.

Show question

Question

What are the three types of endocytosis?


Show answer

Answer

Phagocytosis, pinocytosis and receptor-mediated endocytosis.

Show question

Question

What is exocytosis? Describe the steps involved.


Show answer

Answer

Exocytosis is the bulk transport of molecules out of cells. 


Vesicles containing molecules fuse with the cell membrane. 


This will empty the contents of the vesicles out into the extracellular environment.

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the Active Transport quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.