Send to

Choose Destination
Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2010 Oct;21(5):677-82. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2010.08.006. Epub 2010 Sep 9.

Quantitative understanding of cell signaling: the importance of membrane organization.

Author information

Department of Pathology and Cancer Center, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA.


Systems biology modeling of signal transduction pathways traditionally employs ordinary differential equations, deterministic models based on the assumptions of spatial homogeneity. However, this can be a poor approximation for certain aspects of signal transduction, especially its initial steps: the cell membrane exhibits significant spatial organization, with diffusion rates approximately two orders of magnitude slower than those in the cytosol. Thus, to unravel the complexities of signaling pathways, quantitative models must consider spatial organization as an important feature of cell signaling. Furthermore, spatial separation limits the number of molecules that can physically interact, requiring stochastic simulation methods that account for individual molecules. Herein, we discuss the need for mathematical models and experiments that appreciate the importance of spatial organization in the membrane.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center