Case Study – Cystic Fibrosis


This case study explores the relationship between the cell membrane and breathing difficulties that occur as a result of the genetic disorder cystic fibrosis.   Students look at specific channel proteins in the cell membrane that affect the movement of  chloride ions.  

Different mutations result in different problems with these protein channels.  Treatment options depend on the type of mutation present.

This is intended for an AP Biology, and includes advanced data analysis and interpretation of graphics.   Students works in small groups to solve problems and work through some of the difficult concepts presented.

HHMI has a great animation of the CFTR protein and how changes in its shape result in a non-functioning channel. I often supplement this lesson with several resources for discussion. I may pause the group work to share additional information.

2020 Remote Edition also available.  This one was made slightly easier with fewer questions for students to do on their own.   The remote edition is divided into Part 1 and  Part 2 so students can receive feedback and have discussions before completing the exercise. 

Grade Level:  11-12  |  Time Required:  1-2 hours

HS-LS1-1 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the   structure of DNA determines the structure of proteins   which carry out the essential functions of life through systems of specialized cells