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Br J Biomed Sci. 2008;65(4):205-8.

Cell signalling is the music of life.

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  • 1Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, University of the West of England, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol, UK.


Cell signalling is an immensely important topic in biological and biomedical sciences, and one which has an ever-increasing literature. As more and more is known about it, and more components are discovered, it is getting harder and harder to visualise how it all might work to create an holistic mechanism in the cell. To achieve a better understanding of a complex issue such as this, it is often useful to use an analogy which is familiar to the researcher to encourage better understanding. In this essay it is suggested that music, and the instruments used to produce it, can be used as such an analogy. Various elements and issues in cell signalling are discussed and musical comparisons are made. Clearly, the true understanding of cell signalling will come from systems biology and mathematical modelling, but it is proposed that this analogy might prove useful. The phrasing used may be considered a little loose and flamboyant for a scientific topic of such importance, but it is hoped that the discussion will not only be interesting but might also be useful in fostering debate and facilitating teaching in this area of molecular biology.

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