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Cell. 2011 Mar 18;144(6):897-909. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2011.01.029.

Signaling from the living plasma membrane.

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Max Planck Institute for Molecular Physiology, Department of Systemic Cell Biology, Otto-Hahn-Str. 11, D-44227 Dortmund, Germany.


Our understanding of the plasma membrane, once viewed simply as a static barrier, has been revolutionized to encompass a complex, dynamic organelle that integrates the cell with its extracellular environment. Here, we discuss how bidirectional signaling across the plasma membrane is achieved by striking a delicate balance between restriction and propagation of information over different scales of time and space and how underlying dynamic mechanisms give rise to rich, context-dependent signaling responses. In this Review, we show how computer simulations can generate counterintuitive predictions about the spatial organization of these complex processes.

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