Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cells talk

Do you know that cells talk non-stop? Huh? Yes they do. This is accomplished through receptors that are found mostly on their cell membrane. Some receptors however are found in their cytoplasm and in their nucleus.

Cells keep a variety of receptors on their membrane. These receptors respond to specific information produced by other cells and their surroundings. For example, neurons send information (neurotransmitters) to other cells adjacent to them while endocrine glands send information (hormones) to other cells that are far from them.

Anyway, these information molecules bind with specific receptors on the membranes of their target cells. Once binding occurs, a series of signals are set in motion and the target cell responds. The response depends on the information received. If the information for example is a neurotransmitter, and the target cell is another neuron, then this target neuron may be excited or inhibited. If on the other hand the information is a hormone like insulin, then the target cell starts absorbing glucose and using this for its metabolic needs.

Thus, a cell maintains a diversity of receptors so they can receive constant information from other cells and from their surroundings. They have to keep on talking with these other cells and their surroundings. The talk is essential for their survival.

Do you know that if cells can’t talk, they will die? This will be the subject of a future post.

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