Cell Communication: The Inside Story; June 2000; Scientific American Magazine; by Scott, Pawson; 8 Page(s)
As anyone familiar with the party game "telephone" knows, when people try to pass a message from one individual to another in a line, they usually garble the words beyond recognition. It might seem surprising, then, that mere molecules inside our cells constantly enact their own version of telephone without distorting the relayed information in the least.
Actually, no one could survive without such precise signaling in cells. The body functions properly only because cells communicate with one another constantly. Pancreatic cells, for instance, release insulin to tell muscle cells to take up sugar from the blood for energy. Cells of the immune system instruct their cousins to attack invaders, and cells of the nervous system rapidly fire messages to and from the brain. Those messages elicit the right responses only because they are transmitted accurately far into a recipient cell and to the exact molecules able to carry out the directives.