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FEBS Lett. 2009 Dec 17;583(24):4019-24. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2009.11.029.

Cell signaling: what is the signal and what information does it carry?

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  • 1Division of Basic Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.


This paper reviews key findings from quantitative study of the yeast pheromone response system. Most come from single cell experiments that quantify molecular events the system uses to operate. After induction, signal propagation is relatively slow; peak activity takes minutes to reach the nucleus. At each measurement point along the transmission chain, signal rises, overshoots, peaks, and declines toward steady state. At at least one measurement point, this decline depends on negative feedback. The system senses and relays percent receptor occupancy, and one effect of the feedback is to maximize precision of this transmitted information. Over time, the system constantly adjusts quantitative behaviors to convey extracellular ligand concentration faithfully. These behaviors and mechanisms that control them are likely to be general for metazoan signaling systems.

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