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This free course, Cell signalling, explains the general principles of signal transduction and specifically, how even the simplest organisms can detect and respond to events in their ever-changing environment.
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.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 General principles of signal transduction
- 1.1 Introduction
- 1.2 Extracellular signals can act locally or at a distance
- 1.3 Most receptors are on the cell surface
- 1.4 Cellular responses are diverse
- 1.5 Signal transduction mechanisms
- 1.6 Signalling proteins can act as molecular switches
- 1.7 Localization of signalling proteins
- 1.8 Protein–protein interactions in signal transduction
- 1.9 Summary
- 2 Receptors and their ligands
- 3 Intracellular signalling components
- 3.1 Introduction
- 3.2 Trimeric G proteins
- 3.3 Lipid-modifying enzymes
- 3.4 Second messengers
- 3.5 Monomeric G proteins
- 3.6 Protein kinases
- 3.7 Protein phosphatases
- 3.8 Activation of transcription factors
- 3.9 Summary
- 4 Glucose metabolism: an example of integration of signalling pathways
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
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.
This OpenLearn course provides a sample of Level 3 study in.
This free course includes adapted extracts from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Science, Maths & Technology courses or view the range of currently available OU Science, Maths & Technology courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Thursday, 24th March 2016
Last updated on: Thursday, 24th March 2016
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
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