Basics of Cell Signaling

It will cover the following objects:

a) What is cell signaling?

b) Importance of cell signaling.

c)Basic steps of cell signaling process


First of all, I would like to ask you a question. What do you think communication is? May be the answer is communication is the way to connect with others or might be something similar. Everything in the world needs communication to know what to do like as you need communication to get information or to make a network. For better understanding I can tell you that a community like people in a society need communication to perform their job perfectly by distributing work. And by this every people in a society be connected and a society be connected with others.

Now you may find a question that what the needs of all these to understand cell signaling? Well I can tell you that this understanding about communication will make cell signaling easier to you as Cell signaling is the communication among the cells like communication among the people in a community. If you feel need of a biological definition than I can give you like:

Cell signaling is the process by which living cells in a life interact with the cellular environment and neighboring cells. Cells need to interact with their environment and other cells around them to know what to do. For example, Single cellular organisms need to detect nutrients in their environment, and cells in multicellular organisms are involved in a complex system of communication with each other.

Now you may want to know how these microscopic cells interact with each other and also with environment and how they perform actions after getting information from environment or from neighboring cells which we called signal. For making it easier to you I explained first about what Kind of Signals Do Cells Receive and then about all the three basic steps of cell signaling process briefly hereafter.


Kinds of signal

Most cell signals are chemical in nature. For example, some organisms have sensors that detect nutrients and help them to reach food sources. In multicellular organisms, growth factors, hormones, neurotransmitters, and extracellular matrix components are some of the many types of chemical signals cells use. These signaling molecules can exert their effects locally, or they might travel over long distances.


Some cells show responses against mechanical stimuli. For example, sensory cells of skin respond to the pressure of touch, whereas similar cells in the ear react to the movement of sound waves. In addition, some specialized cells like cells in human vascular system detect changes in blood pressure information which is used to maintain a consistent cardiac load.


Three stages of cell signaling

  1. Reception: A cell gets signal by detecting a signaling molecule from the outside of the cell. Every cell has some receptor proteins on the cell surface (Extra cellular receptors) or inside the cell (Intra cellular receptors) by which the cell receives the signal. A signal is detected when the signaling molecule (also known as a ligand) binds to a receptor protein on the surface of the cell or inside the cell.


                                                 Steps of cell signaling
  1. Transduction: Once the signaling molecule is bound by the receptor, the receptor protein is changed in some way which in turn initiates the process of transduction. Signal transduction is usually a pathway of several steps. Each molecule in the signal transduction pathway changes the next molecule to give the signal to the proper site of the cell.

3. Response: Finally, when the signal be transduced to the proper site of the cell then the signal triggers a specific cellular response like activates         particular gene expression or inhibits particular gene expression. For example, some signaling molecule like hormone triggers response after                 reaching the nucleus. Some shows response by changing cytoplasmic proteins.


Importance of cell signaling

If cells don’t signal to each other, then there will no communication occurs among cells and no information can spread among the cells and in the surrounding.For example, during development of an organism cells must communicate to be differentiated properly. Without signaling it cannot be possible.Sometime signals (cytokines) are released by a cell to activate another cell to take a certain action. This could be anything and differs from cell to cell.

See it likes you have a bunch of people in a building that is burning. The once that stand closest to the fire will signal to the others warning for the fire. If there is no signaling, the others aren’t warned on time.



Cells mostly receive signals in chemical form via various signaling molecules. When a signaling molecule finds and joins with an appropriate receptor on a cell surface or inside the cell, this binding causes a chain of events that carries the signal to the cell interior and excites the cell to respond against the signal. Cells can also send signaling molecules to other cells.

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