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Encyclopedia > Cell signaling

Cell signaling is part of a complex system of communication that governs basic cellular activities and coordinates cell actions. The ability of cells to perceive and correctly respond to their microenvironment is the basis of development, tissue repair, and immunity as well as normal tissue homeostasis. Errors in cellular information processing are responsible for diseases such as cancer, autoimmunity, and diabetes. By understanding cell signaling, we can treat diseases effectively and, potentially, build artificial tissues.

Cells receive information from their environment through a class of proteins known as receptors. The information is then processed through signaling pathways and decoded in the nucleus and other areas of the cell. Cell signaling research involves studying the spatial and temporal dynamics of both receptors and the components of signaling pathways to determine what parts are actually present in a given cell, where the parts are located, and what the parts are doing.

Traditional work in biology has focused on studying individual parts of cell signaling pathways. Systems biology research helps us understand the underlying structure of cell signaling networks and how changes in these networks can affect the transmission of information. Systems biology is a scientific approach in biology and medicine that seeks to integrate different levels of information to understand how biological systems function. ...

  Results from FactBites:
Language of the Cell (12540 words)
Cells can similarly sense changes in their external environment through an array of sensor proteins upon their surface that are referred to as membrane receptors, proteins that detect, transmit and alter the information that is carried by a hormone into a form which the cell can interpret..
The cell's complement of proteins behave like an orchestra in concert to the tune of its receptors, responding to the many subtle flickers of the conductor's hormonal baton that sweetly and smoothly change the cell's tune to match the mood of that great concert hall that is the body.
Cells from the pancreas, liver, heart and brain differ because different portions of their identical DNA inheritance are manifested in the form of proteins at different stages during development; and even within a certain type of cell, this pattern of expression varies further with changes in the cell's environment.
Cell talk (11732 words)
Cell's contain a shortage of protons relative to the external fluids, a subtle, yet critical gradient, which despite lacking the enormity of the calcium gradient regulates all manner of cell processes, from the opening of potassium channels involved in salt transport and cell division, to the patterns of sugar antlers added to membrane recognition proteins.
Whereas cholesterol is metabolised by specialised cells of the gonads and adrenal medulla to produce the sex hormones and the mineralocorticosteroids that control the body's critical salt and water balance are produced by the adrenal cortex; other fatty messengers are almost universal in their actions and central role in role in cellular and intercellular signalling.
By listening to the cells and signals in the bloodstream it controls the tone of the smooth muscles that regulate blood pressure and movement, the stickiness of platelets and the permeability of the blood vessel wall to white blood cells.
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