How do signal transduction pathways benefit cells?

1 Answer
Aug 25, 2016

It allows cells to respond to many different stimuli in an efficient way.


Signal transduction pathways or cascades are a way for the cell to deal with many different signals it receives. These signals have to be processed and sent to the right target.

#color(Red)"The usual process"# (see image):

  • receptor receives a signal
  • the signal is transmitted to messengers in the cell. This amplifies the signal because multiple molecules of this messenger are activated.
  • this amplified signal has its effect on other molecules of the cell
  • these molecules will finally induce an appropriate response.

Berg et al. 'Biochemistry' 5th ed.

So one signal can have multiple effects. There is also cross talk between different pathway. Therefore it is possible that different input has the same effect in the cell.

Think of it as a big company . The boss receives a lot of input from many different sources. If the boss would have to do it all by itself, it would take a long time before things get done and in the meanwhile input is missed.

However, the boss can also amplify the input by giving a task to a specific team. They work on the problem and can set things in action. This can be one solution (one effect) or multiple solutions (different effects).

Sometimes two departments might come up with the same solution. They can then combine their efforts (cross talk) to change things. This prevents them from doing double work.

In addition the boss can decide which signals have priority, so what should be transmitted straight away and which signals might have to wait, because employees might be too busy at the moment.