Measure cellular responses occurring through a wide range of signaling pathways
Cellular signaling allows cells to respond to their environment and communicate with other cells. Proteins located on the cell surface can receive signals from the surroundings and transmit information into the cell via a series of protein interactions and biochemical reactions that comprise a signaling pathway. Multicellular organisms rely upon an extensive array of signaling pathways to coordinate the proper growth, regulation, and functioning of cells and tissues. If signaling between or within cells is dysregulated, inappropriate cellular responses may lead to cancer and other diseases.
Cell signaling is the collective name for processes, which cells receive signals, interpret, and respond accordingly. These signals range from physical cues, such as temperature, light, or electricity, to chemical signals, such as small molecules binding to the cell surface. With the ability to process these signals, cells can interact with each other and the environment. In addition, cell signaling constitutes the foundation of development, immune response, and homeostasis in all organisms. This is how our nerve cells communicate with our muscles to facilitate movement or how our body initiates an immune response upon recognizing pathogens.
Many tools have been developed to measure cellular responses occurring through a wide range of signaling pathways. G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) signaling can be studied using assays ranging from calcium flux, which can be monitored using fluorescence dyes, to changes in downstream effector molecules assessed by TR-FRET. Fluorescent molecules have been harnessed to reveal changes in the activity of kinases that play key roles in signaling pathways. Luciferase reporter gene assays utilizing luminescent reactions have become a versatile tool for studying gene regulation and cell signaling in both basic research and drug discovery.
The detection of cellular signals and responses can help us elucidate the role of cell-to-cell interactions in diseases. Drug discovery can also greatly benefit from cell signaling assays since many drugs inhibit aberrant ligand-protein interactions during signal transduction.
Cellular signaling applications and assays
Below, we present a variety of cell signaling applications that can be run using microplate readers with fluorescence, TR-FRET, fluorescence polarization, and luminescence detection modes.