Editors' ChoiceCell Biology

Simple Signals?

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Science Signaling  06 Aug 2013:
Vol. 6, Issue 287, pp. ec183
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2004586

Cells process information about themselves and their surroundings through biochemical signaling pathways. Uda et al. used a recently developed cytometric method to quantitate signaling through biochemical pathways in individual rat pheochromocytoma cells responding to growth factors. The signaling pathways studied provided about 1 bit of information, or only enough for a binary (on or off) decision. Despite the simplicity, the results showed interactions between pathways with shared components. In some cases, information carried between inputs and intermediate outputs was less than that between the input and more “downstream” outputs, indicating that information was carried through multiple paths. Similarly, in the presence of pharmacological inhibitors of one pathway, others were able to compensate to allow robust transfer of information. Thus, despite noise and variation in signal intensities in individual cells, robust transfer of information from the growth factors was achieved.

S. Uda, T. H. Saito, T. Kudo, T. Kokaji, T. Tsuchiya, H. Kubota, Y. Komori, Y.-i. Ozaki, S. Kuroda, Robustness and compensation of information transmission of signaling pathways. Science 341, 558–561 (2013). [Abstract] [Full Text]

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