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Intro to Cell Signaling

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A question for you- have you ever played the game “telephone?”

You know, the game where someone whispers something to someone and then that person

whispers it to someone else and then that person whispers it to someone else…and by

the time you get through everyone playing, the original message is all messed up?

I used to kind of dread that game---most people seemed to like it---but somehow whenever it

reached me, the message was always really messed up so I felt like I was spreading nonsense.

Well, either that, or it was me all along that misheard it.

Anyway, the game is all about communication and how things spread.

Communication is incredibly important not just for us but for the things that we are

made up of.

Like our cells!

Cells make up all living things.

And while they don’t talk in the way that you and I do, it’s important for their messages---their

signaling---to be transmitted and received appropriately.

Multicellular organisms need their many cells to be able to work together to carry out functions.

Just consider all of the cells working together in one of your organs—like you heart—for

example!

First some vocabulary---we’re going to be talking a lot about receptors.

A receptor is a molecule---such as a protein---where a signal molecule can bind.

One place you can find receptors is on the surface of a cell membrane.

When a signal molecule binds the receptor, amazing things can happen.