Cell communication plays a vital role in maintaining a stable, internal environment in a process known as homeostasis by responding to both internal and external clues. The functioning of cells in a particular tissue relies on cell signaling to respond to their environment. Cell communication is the exchange of information between cells in a tissue. Cell signaling is the major method of cell communication that allows coordination among a group of cells within a tissue. Intercellular communication occurs through the extracellular space with the aid of hormones, neurotransmitters or cytokines. The three stages of cell communication are reception, transduction, and response.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Cell Communication
– Definition, Features, Process
2. What is Homeostasis
– Definition, Feature, Process
3. How Does Communication Between Cells Help Maintain Homeostasis
– Role of Cell Communication in Maintaining Homeostasis
Key Terms: Cell Communication, Chemical Signals, Homeostasis, Negative Feedback Loops, Positive Feedback Loops
What is Cell Communication
Cell communication refers to any of several ways in which living cells of an organism communicate with one another. It mainly occurs by means of chemical signals/messengers through a process known as cell signaling. These chemical signals are mainly proteins produced by a cell and secreted into the extracellular space. These chemical signals can be hormones, neurotransmitters or cytokines. Reception, transduction, and response are the three stages of cell communication.
Signaling molecules serve as ligands that specifically bind to the molecules known as receptors on the surface of cells in a tissue. These receptors change their conformation upon binding to the ligand, transmitting the signal to the intracellular space. The three major types of receptors on the cell membrane are ion channel receptors, receptor tyrosine kinase, and G protein-coupled receptors.
The change in the conformation of the transmembrane receptor initiates a specific signal transduction pathway, which is composed of several steps. The molecules involved in the signal transduction pathway are known as relay molecules. The multiple steps in the transduction allow the regulation of pathway.
At the end of the signal transduction pathway, a specific cellular response such as DNA replication, gene expression, enzyme action, etc. is initiated inside the cell. A cell signaling pathway is shown in figure 1.
Cell communication is involved in the development, tissue repair, immunity as well as homeostasis.
What is Homeostasis
Homeostasis refers to any self-regulating process by which biological systems maintain stability while adjusting to the conditions for optimal survival. Homeostasis is maintained by negative and positive feedback loops.
Negative Feedback Loops
The negative feedback loop is a reaction that causes a decrease in function, in response to some kind of stimulus. The maintenance of the blood sugar levels, blood pressure, blood pH, oxygen/carbon dioxide balance, water balance (osmoregulation), acid/base balance, calcium levels, and energy balance are examples of negative feedback loops.
Positive Feedback Loops
Positive feedback loops are involved in the amplification of the stimulus. During childbirth, the uterine contractions are stimulated by oxytocin. The release of more oxytocin produces stronger contractions.
How Does Communication Between Cells Help Maintain Homeostasis
Homeostasis is the maintenance of a steady, internal environment inside the body. Cell communication plays a vital role in homeostasis. The chemical signals such as hormones, neurotransmitters or cytokines serve as molecules that aid in sending signals to the internal organs or tissues of the body. Intercellular communication among cells in a tissue helps the tissue to function as a unit. Therefore, the tissues or organs of the body can alter their functioning based on the receiving signals, maintaining defined levels or conditions of a particular organism.
Cell communication is the mechanism of sending signals among the cells of a particular tissue. It helps in the maintenance of a steady internal environment of the body by sending signals to all cells of organs and tissues. Then, the organs and tissues can function together to achieve a particular function within the body.
1. “EGFR signaling pathway” By EGFR_signaling_pathway.png: Eikuchderivative work: Anassagora (talk) – EGFR_signaling_pathway.png (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “625 Calcium Homeostasis” By Anatomy & Physiology, Connexions Web site, Jun 19, 2013. – OpenStax College (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia