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The Complexity of Cell Signaling and the Need for a New Mechanics

Cell signaling systems respond to multiple inputs, such as ligands of cell-surface receptors; and produce multiple outputs, such as changes in gene expression and cellular activities, including motility, proliferation, and death. This “macroscopic” input-output behavior is generated by a web of molecular interactions that can be viewed as taking place at a lower, “microscopic” level. These interactions prominently involve posttranslational modification of proteins and the nucleation of protein complexes. Behaviors at both the micro- and macroscopic levels are complex and must be probed systematically and characterized quantitatively as a prelude to the development of a predictive understanding of a cell signaling system. We must also have a theoretical framework or a mechanics within which we can determine how macroscopic behaviors emerge from known microscopic behaviors or change with manipulations of microscopic behaviors. To connect behaviors at both levels, we suggest that a new mechanics is now required. Newly available data support the idea that this mechanics should enable one to track the site-specific details of molecular interactions in a model, such as the phosphorylation status of individual amino acid residues within a protein.

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Classifications


Resource Type: Bibliography, Diagram, Illustration, Journal article/Issue, Review
Audience Level: Undergraduate upper division 15-16, Graduate, Professional (degree program)

Author and Copyright


Authors and Editors: William S. Hlavacek of Theoretical Division and Center for Nonlinear Studies, Los Alamos National Laboratory, James R. Faeder of Department of Computational Biology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Publisher: American Association for the Advancement of Science
Format: application/pdf, image/gif, image/jpeg, text/html
Copyright and other restrictions: Yes
Cost: Yes

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Collection:
STKE/Science Signaling


     
   

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