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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Explain how the binding of a ligand initiates signal transduction throughout a cell
  • Recognize the role of phosphorylation in the transmission of intracellular signals
  • Evaluate the role of second messengers in signal transmission

Once a ligand binds to a receptor, the signal is transmitted through the membrane and into the cytoplasm. Continuation of a signal in this manner is called signal transduction    . Signal transduction only occurs with cell-surface receptors because internal receptors are able to interact directly with DNA in the nucleus to initiate protein synthesis.

When a ligand binds to its receptor, conformational changes occur that affect the receptor’s intracellular domain. Conformational changes of the extracellular domain upon ligand binding can propagate through the membrane region of the receptor and lead to activation of the intracellular domain or its associated proteins. In some cases, binding of the ligand causes dimerization    of the receptor, which means that two receptors bind to each other to form a stable complex called a dimer. A dimer    is a chemical compound formed when two molecules (often identical) join together. The binding of the receptors in this manner enables their intracellular domains to come into close contact and activate each other.

Binding initiates a signaling pathway

After the ligand binds to the cell-surface receptor, the activation of the receptor’s intracellular components sets off a chain of events that is called a signaling pathway    or a signaling cascade. In a signaling pathway, second messengers, enzymes, and activated proteins interact with specific proteins, which are in turn activated in a chain reaction that eventually leads to a change in the cell’s environment ( [link] ). The events in the cascade occur in a series, much like a current flows in a river. Interactions that occur before a certain point are defined as upstream events, and events after that point are called downstream events.

Art connection

This illustration shows the epidermal growth factor receptor, which is embedded in the plasma membrane. Upon binding of a signaling molecule to the receptor’s extracellular domain, the receptor dimerizes, and intracellular residues are phosphorylated. Phosphorylation of the receptor triggers the phosphorylation of a protein called MEK by RAF. MEK, in turn, phosphorylates ERK. ERK stimulates protein translation in the cytoplasm, and transcription in the nucleus. Activation of ERK stimulates cell proliferation, cell migration and adhesion, and angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels). ERK inhibits apoptosis.
The epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor (EGFR) is a receptor tyrosine kinase involved in the regulation of cell growth, wound healing, and tissue repair. When EGF binds to the EGFR, a cascade of downstream events causes the cell to grow and divide. If EGFR is activated at inappropriate times, uncontrolled cell growth (cancer) may occur.

In certain cancers, the GTPase activity of the RAS G-protein is inhibited. This means that the RAS protein can no longer hydrolyze GTP into GDP. What effect would this have on downstream cellular events?

Signaling pathways can get very complicated very quickly because most cellular proteins can affect different downstream events, depending on the conditions within the cell. A single pathway can branch off toward different endpoints based on the interplay between two or more signaling pathways, and the same ligands are often used to initiate different signals in different cell types. This variation in response is due to differences in protein expression in different cell types. Another complicating element is signal integration    of the pathways, in which signals from two or more different cell-surface receptors merge to activate the same response in the cell. This process can ensure that multiple external requirements are met before a cell commits to a specific response.

Questions & Answers

Is the "growth and maintenance phase" in a cell's life cycle when cell division is about to occur
Somto Reply
what is the common name of Basidiomycetes
Ogechukwu Reply
الاجزاء النباتية لابد من تعقيمها قبل زراعتها في القوارير
yes
tariq
whats this?
tariq
do you speak arabic?!
what are bio elements
Shahzad Reply
which are present In Body And such elements Have Great role in our Body there are 16 bio elements that maintains human Body but on The basis of amount There are 6 bio elements present in Concen. of 99% and More Valuable And Highly Concen. element is Oxygent with 65 %
Haider
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Lamina Reply
how je pollution brouhgt about
Lamina
non is pollution brouhgt about
Lamina
describe the anatomy of cell division
Ivanovic Reply
Complex traits such as height result from 
Ruben Reply
what is the difference between chloroplasts and mitochondria
Nkalubo Reply
chloroplast in plants and bacterial cell ; mitochondria in animal cells
aung
Diagram of a living cell
Eliza Reply
what is cell
Sule
A cell is the smallest basic unit of life.
John
what's biology
Ogochukwu Reply
this is da study of living and non-living thing in an eco-system
Nutty
it is the study of living and non living organism in the ecology
Akufia
I agree with you dat biology is d study of living nd nonliving features
Winner
why do plants store carbohydrates in form of starch and not glucose?
Nutty Reply
Describe the structure of starch?
Nutty
wat is diffusion
Winner
water is life!.. Discuss?
Nutty Reply
why do plants store carbohydrates in form if starch not glucose!
Nutty
study of living thing
Dennis Reply
what is beyond a liveing cell
Raymond
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Gabriel Reply
d study of living nd non living thing
Winner
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Evelyn Reply
The surgical removal of d spermduct
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Source:  OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11448/1.10
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