Biology » Cell Communication » Propagation of the Signal

Summarizing Propagation of the Signal


Ligand binding to the receptor allows for signal transduction through the cell. The chain of events that conveys the signal through the cell is called a signaling pathway or cascade. Signaling pathways are often very complex because of the interplay between different proteins. A major component of cell signaling cascades is the phosphorylation of molecules by enzymes known as kinases. Phosphorylation adds a phosphate group to serine, threonine, and tyrosine residues in a protein, changing their shapes, and activating or inactivating the protein. Small molecules like nucleotides can also be phosphorylated. Second messengers are small, non-protein molecules that are used to transmit a signal within a cell. Some examples of second messengers are calcium ions (Ca2+), cyclic AMP (cAMP), diacylglycerol (DAG), and inositol triphosphate (IP3).


cyclic AMP (cAMP)

second messenger that is derived from ATP

cyclic AMP-dependent kinase

(also, protein kinase A, or PKA) kinase that is activated by binding to cAMP

diacylglycerol (DAG)

cleavage product of PIP2 that is used for signaling within the plasma membrane


chemical compound formed when two molecules join together


(of receptor proteins) interaction of two receptor proteins to form a functional complex called a dimer

inositol phospholipid

lipid present at small concentrations in the plasma membrane that is converted into a second messenger; it has inositol (a carbohydrate) as its hydrophilic head group

inositol triphosphate (IP3)

cleavage product of PIP2 that is used for signaling within the cell


enzyme that catalyzes the transfer of a phosphate group from ATP to another molecule

second messenger

small, non-protein molecule that propagates a signal within the cell after activation of a receptor causes its release

signal integration

interaction of signals from two or more different cell-surface receptors that merge to activate the same response in the cell

signal transduction

propagation of the signal through the cytoplasm (and sometimes also the nucleus) of the cell

signaling pathway

(also signaling cascade) chain of events that occurs in the cytoplasm of the cell to propagate the signal from the plasma membrane to produce a response

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