Cell behavior is regulated by a complex network of intracellular and extracellular signal transduction pathways. A major focus in biomedical research over the past ten or fifteen years has been the identification and characterization of the components that make up such signaling pathways. Researchers have focused on how these pathways are controlled, how they communicate with each other, and, most importantly, what happens when they do not function properly.
For example, cancer could be defined as a disease of mis-regulated signal transduction. Cancer cells grow when they should not and do not die when they should. The underlying reason for such aberrant behavior is that cancer cells possess mutated versions of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes. Such mutant molecules are often components of the signaling pathways that regulate cell growth, survival, motility, and other processes.
Signal transduction is the conversion of a cell surface event, namely, the binding by a specific plasma membrane receptor of a hormone, cytokine, growth factor, or other ligand, into a coherent cellular response. The latter may be a complex cell nucleus-mediated event or may be locally expressed at the cell membrane as altered activity of ion channels. Transduction of the initiating signal usually depends upon pathways of kinases that, when activated, follow a pre-defined network of interactions that ultimately lead to a biologic endpoint. Alternatively, a constituent of the kinase pathway may translocate from one intracellular compartment to another to change gene expression or move to the plasma membrane to act on a substrate substituent of an ion channel.
Understanding the complexity of signal transduction pathways is critical for understanding normal biological conditions and disease states. Molecular Devices offers one of the widest ranges of products available for pathway analysis--from dedicated, single readout devices to automated, multi-detection systems. We also offer bioanalytical systems that support live cell imaging and label-free analysis to generate more physiologically relevant results. Please select among the links below to learn more.