Signaling Pathways

Cells are in constant communication with each other and with the surrounding environment. This cellular discourse occurs through both electrical and chemical signals. In multicellular organisms, growth factors, hormones, neurotransmitters, and extracellular matrix components are some of the many types of chemical signals cells use. Cells have proteins called receptors that bind to signaling molecules and initiate a physiological response. Cell signaling pathways orchestrate these interactions. They control the life history of cells, right from their birth during the process of cell proliferation, their differentiation into specific cell types to carry out different cell functions, and finally till their death through processes such as apoptosis. Many of the same signaling systems that control development come into play again to regulate a wide range of specific processes in adult cells, such as contraction, secretion, metabolism, proliferation, information processing in neurons and sensory perception.

These signalling pathways fall into two main groups depending on how they are activated. Most of them are activated by external stimuli and function to transfer information from the cell surface to internal effector systems. In general, intercellular signals are characterized into 5 categories: 1) Intracrine signals - produced within the target cell, 2)Autocrine signals - target the cell itself, 3) Juxtacrine signals - target adjacent (touching) cells, 4) Paracrine signals - target cells in the vicinity of the emitting cell, 5) Endocrine signals - target distant cells. However, some of the signaling systems respond to information generated from within the cell, usually in the form of metabolic messengers. For all of these intracellular signalling pathways, information is conveyed either through protein-protein interactions or it is transmitted by diffusible elements usually referred to as second messengers. Cells often employ a number of these signalling pathways, and cross-talk between them is an important feature.

At any one time, a cell is receiving and responding to numerous signals, and multiple signaling pathways are operating in its cytoplasm. Through this network of signaling pathways, the cell is constantly integrating all the information it receives from its external environment. These signaling pathways could be G-Protein coupled pathways, second messenger coupled pathways or Kinase cascades. Some of the most important signaling pathways in the cells include adipokine signaling, AMPK, Insulin and Leptin signaling, EGFR signaling, GSK-3/Wnt signaling, Hedgehog signaling, JAK/STAT signaling, JNK/SAPK Signaling, MAP Kinase Pathway, NF-κB signaling, PI3K/Akt/mTOR Signaling, PPAR Signaling, TGF-β Signaling, TLR signaling, Ubiquitin proteasome pathway etc.

In light of their complexity, it comes as no surprise that defects in signaling pathways leads to pathological or disease states. The nature of these defects and how they are induced varies enormously. Most of the serious diseases in humans, such as cancer, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and many forms of mental illnesses, seem to arise from subtle phenotypic modifications of signaling pathways. Such phenotypic remodeling alters the behavior of cells so that their normal functions are subverted, leading to disease. Since it has proved difficult to clearly establish this relationship between signalosome remodeling and disease, there has been relatively little progress in designing effective treatments. Genotypic modifications resulting from either somatic mutations or germline mutations have been somewhat easier to diagnose, but have also proved difficult to treat as witnessed by the failure of many of the gene therapy strategies. Therefore, there is a pressing need to understand more about all of these disease states in order to design better therapies. The enormous redundancy built into cell signaling mechanisms offers many opportunities for discovering new ways of correcting many disease states.

Biovision has a very comprehensive ensemble of products catering to the various signaling pathways as shown in the below links. These products include assay kit, recombinant proteins, antibodies, biochemicals, inhibitors, activators, agonists, antagonists and much more to serve your complete signaling pathways research needs.

Signaling Pathways Categories