Even the simplest organisms can detect and respond to events in their ever-changing environment. Similarly, within a multicellular organism, cells are surrounded by an extracellular environment from which signals are received and responded to. Extracellular events are decoded and transmitted to relevant parts of individual cells by way of a series of activation/deactivation steps involving many intracellular molecules. This relay of information along molecular pathways is called signal transduction; it is sometimes also simply referred to as ‘signalling’.

The molecular models shown in this chapter were produced using the Brookhaven protein data base (pdb) files indicated in the figure legends. These files can be downloaded, viewed and manipulated using a suitable molecular viewing programme, such as Viewerlite tm.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • define and use each of the terms printed in bold in the text
  • understand the basic principles of signal transduction mechanisms, in particular the concepts of response specificity, signal amplitude and duration, signal integration and intracellular location
  • give examples of different types of extracellular signals and receptors, and explain their functional significance
  • describe the mechanisms by which different receptors may be activated by their respective ligands
  • describe and give examples of the structure and properties of the major components of signal transduction pathways.

Course Curriculum

1. General principles of signal transduction
Cell Signalling – Introduction 00:35:00
Extracellular Signals Can Act Locally or At A Distance FREE 00:45:00
Most Receptors Are on the Cell Surface FREE 00:15:00
Cellular Responses Are Diverse 00:10:00
Signal Transduction Mechanisms 00:45:00
Signalling Proteins Can Act as Molecular Switches 01:30:00
Localization of Signalling Proteins 01:00:00
Protein–protein interactions in signal transduction FREE 01:00:00
Summary – Signal Transduction 00:45:00
2. Receptors and their ligands
Receptor Specificity 00:40:00
Ion-channel receptors 00:45:00
Seven-helix transmembrane (7TM) receptors 00:40:00
Receptors with Intrinsic Enzymatic Activity FREE 00:40:00
Recruiter Receptors 00:30:00
Receptor inactivation 00:30:00
Intracellular Receptors 00:25:00
Summary – Receptors 00:35:00
3. Intracellular signalling components
Trimeric G proteins 01:00:00
Lipid-modifying Enzymes 00:40:00
Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase) 00:30:00
Phospholipase C (PLC) FREE 00:45:00
Calcium ions 00:45:00
Cyclic AMP 00:45:00
Monomeric G proteins 00:45:00
Protein kinases 00:30:00
The MAP kinase pathway 00:30:00
Protein phosphatases 00:40:00
Activation of transcription factors 00:40:00
Summary – Intracellular signalling components 00:40:00
4. Glucose metabolism: an example of integration of signalling pathways
Glucose metabolism 01:30:00
Summary – Glucose metabolism 00:30:00
Acknowledgements – Cell Signalling 00:15:00
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