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What is Signal Transduction?

Signal transduction is the study of how cells control their own and each others' behaviors through chemical signals. Signal transduction research is an intensely active field of biomedical research and is of interest to a broad array of scientists. Science's STKE should be useful to the scientists who specialize in signal transduction, as well as the many scientists who need to follow and apply the current findings of this field even though their primary interest may not be in signal transduction mechanisms themselves.


The overarching goal of Science's STKE is to identify and develop a mix of tools and approaches (algorithms, schemas, programs, and human organizational structures) that are stable, scalable, interoperable, and cost effective for providing access to information on cell signaling. All aspects of Science's STKE are designed to facilitate the site's main purpose, which is to maximize the efficiency with which the reader gathers, assimilates, and understands information about cell regulatory processes. We strive to increase the likelihood of the scientist making new connections between facts from discrete sources, and to support educational, collaborative, and community-building efforts. An additional goal of the site is to better understand and provide the tools and organizational structures scientific authorities need when they attempt to systematize knowledge of cell signaling into the Connections Map database. As we meet our goals of increasing the speed and effectiveness of information transfer, we expect all STKE users to benefit.

Features of the STKE

Experienced editors from Science worked with software developers from HighWire Press to develop the STKE, which includes information management tools that researchers indicated they needed. Science's STKE emphasizes information selected and vetted by authorities in the field, prudently supplemented with automated functions where appropriate. The high editorial standards that have been the benchmark for Science are applied to selection of material for Science's STKE.

  • STKE Perspectives, Reviews, and Protocols

    STKE presents original Perspectives, Reviews, and Protocols, most of which are solicited by the editors. Perspectives present the opinion of the author focused on one main issue, often a new development from a published paper or group of papers. Reviews are more complete analyses of topics of broad interest and are critically peer reviewed for scholarship, clarity, and accuracy. Protocols are presented in detail with background information for interested readers who may not intend to actually use the protocol and with detailed instructions and troubleshooting guides for readers who do wish to apply the technique.

  • STKE Virtual Journal

    Nineteen publishers have agreed to include full-text access to ST articles from their journals in the STKE Virtual Journal.

  • Current Awareness and Personalization

    Each week the editors of Science's STKE scan the literature for newly published papers of particularly broad interest. Brief summaries of the selected papers are presented in This Week in Signal Transduction. My STKE provides customization features to tailor the site to the user's needs and interests (these features require personal subscription or registration and access through an institutional site license). Users construct Alerts, such as a Citetrack alerts, that generate e-mail notification when a selected article is cited by a paper in the Virtual Journal. Keyword or Author alerts notify users when papers that meet specified criteria are added to the Virtual Journal. Users can automatically receive an electronic Table of Contents of new original material published each week at Science's STKE. Users can organize information found at the site in Folders. My Display Settings allow individual users to view only material that is new since their last visit to the site or limit search results to only those journals they have selected from the Virtual Journal. My Saved Searches allows users to saved personalized searches to repeat on demand without requiring the parameters to be re-entered each time.

  • Connections Maps

    The Connections Map database contains information on signaling components and their relations provided by leading authorities in the field. The database helps organize information and provides previously unavailable information such as short lists of selected key references, and the authorities' evaluations of the strength of existing evidence for relations in the database. The Connections Maps themselves are dynamically generated to instantly reflect new information provided by the authorities.

  • STKE Community

    Discussion Forums provide users the opportunity to exchange views and information. A Directory of STKE users is also available to facilitate interaction amongst users. The electronic format of Science's STKE allows users to interact more easily with authors. Readers can submit Comments that can be associated with original articles posted at the STKE and viewed by other users.

  • STKE Portal

    Science's STKE provides access to Science Careers, notices for upcoming Events, and a directory of editorially reviewed other useful sites relevant to signaling research in Signal Transduction on the Web.

History of KEs

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) established a collaboration with Stanford University Libraries (SUL) and The Center for Resource Economics/Island Press (Island Press) in 1996 to help scientific researchers and non-profit organizations harness the power of the Internet and electronic publishing. At that time, only a handful of journals were available through the Internet, and the World Wide Web was in its infancy. It was clear, however, that the Web could transform the ways in which scientists gathered and shared information as part of research efforts. We recognized that Web-based technologies could enhance access to databased information and greatly improve the effectiveness of information transfer and the creation of new knowledge. Development work on the project began in early 1998 after the collaborative received a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts to create a prototype of the web-based electronic networking tools we envisioned.

Knowledge Environment (KE) is the term coined by the collaborative to describe the collection of electronic networking tools we are developing. Knowledge environments use practical, production-quality tools to systematize the consensus knowledge within a scientific domain, and to facilitate users' access to that knowledge. In a KE, access occurs through searching, browsing, and current awareness features combined with user-friendly graphical interfaces. KEs combine primary and review literature with more dispersed sources of "how-to", "what-is", and "where-to" knowledge. Specific electronic tools that facilitate entry of information into the underlying databases continue to be developed as part of the concept.

Signal transduction research was selected for the prototype KE for several reasons.

  • The characteristics of the potential user base allows us to test many of the electronic tools that are central to the KE concept.
  • The user population is an interdisciplinary group, so we are able to test those KE tools that are specifically designed to facilitate communication across disciplines and to filter information such that only material relevant to the user's interest is presented.
  • The topic can be mapped by classes of data structures allows us to test the use of a graphical interface to access and display data from a database maintained by experts.
  • No single journal serves as the main source of signal transduction information; researchers must scan numerous sources to stay abreast of current advances. Thus, there is a clear need for information management tools.
  • The informal exchange of information within this research community is also fractured because signal transduction researchers do not all belong to one scholarly society.

Development of Science's STKE has been a truly collaborative effort. Without the support of our funders and the participating publishers, our vision could not be tested. In addition, we are grateful for the ongoing guidance of our Editorial Board.

Science's STKE

  • Editorial Team
    • Nancy R. Gough, Ph.D. (Managing Editor)
    • Elizabeth M. Adler, Ph.D. (Associate Editor)
    • L. Bryan Ray, Ph.D. (Editor)
    • Monica M. Bradford (Project Director)
    • Betsy Harman (Electronic Media Manager)
  • AAAS Production Team
    • Copyediting: Cara Tate, Jeffrey Cook, Harry Jach, Barbara Ordway, Maggie Brown (freelance copyeditor)
    • Proofreading: Scott Miller, Chris Filiatreau, Jerry Richardson
    • Art: Chris Bickel
    • PDF Layout: Chris Redwood
    • Electronic Media: Lisa Stanford, Sheila Myers
  • Development Team
    • Polly Siegel (Journal Manager)
    • Allan Bell (Technical Manager)
    • Margo Kannenburg (Technical Director)
    • Jeff Plautz, Ph.D. (Applications Software Developer)
    • Tina Underwood (Systems Software Developer)
Editorial Board* and Bioinformatics Committee^
  • Lewis C. Cantley*^, Division of Signal Transduction, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA USA

  • Joseph Ecker*^, Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory, Salk Institute, La Jolla, CA USA
  • Lee E. Eiden*^, Section on Molecular Neuroscience, Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Regulation, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD USA
  • Paul Greengard*, Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, Rockefeller University, New York, NY USA
  • Tony Hunter*^, Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory, Salk Institute, La Jolla, CA USA
  • Ravi Iyengar*^, The Dorothy H. and Lewis Rosenstiel Department of Pharmacology and Biological Chemistry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY USA
  • Katsuhiko Mikoshiba*, Laboratory for Developmental Neurobiology, RIKEN Brain Science Institute, Tokyo, Japan
  • Randall T. Moon*^, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Pharmacology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA USA
  • Joseph Schlessinger*^, Department of Pharmacology
    Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT USA
  • Solomon Snyder*, Department of Neuroscience
    Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD USA
  • Eric Vivier*, Centre d`Immunologie de Marseille-Luminy, INSERM-CNRS-Univ. Mediterranee, France
  • Nancy Walworth*, Department of Pharmacology, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ USA
  • Andrew Finney^, SBML Working Team, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, United Kingdom
  • Carole Parent^, Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD USA

  • Donald Kennedy (Editor-in-Chief, Science)
  • Beth Rosner (Publisher)
  • John Meyers (Marketing Director, Advertising)
  • B. Neil Boylan (Online Sales Manager, Advertising)
  • Marlene Zendell (Deputy Director, Membership/Circulation)
HighWire Press
  • Michael Keller (Publisher)
  • John Sack (Associate Publisher and Director)
Island Press
  • Chuck Savitt (President and Publisher)
  • Kristy Manning (Research Associate)
The STKE acknowledges the generous support of
  • The Pew Charitable Trusts
  • The Charles A. Dana Foundation
  • The National Science Foundation

The Virtual Journal is made possible by the following participating publishers:

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • American Association for Clinical Chemistry
  • American Physiological Society
  • American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • American Society for Cell Biology
  • American Society for Microbiology
  • American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
  • American Society of Plant Biologists
  • Annual Reviews
  • Blackwell Science, Ltd.
  • Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press
  • Lipid Research, Inc.
  • National Academy of Sciences
  • Rockefeller University Press
  • Society for Neuroscience
  • Society for the Study of Reproduction
  • The Company of Biologists
  • The European Molecular Biology Organization
  • The Histochemical Society

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Science Signaling. ISSN 1937-9145 (online), 1945-0877 (print). Pre-2008: Science's STKE. ISSN 1525-8882