Cell regulation: determined to signal discrete cooperation

Trends Biochem Sci. 2009 Oct;34(10):471-82. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2009.06.007. Epub 2009 Sep 8.


Do kinases cascade? How well is cell regulation understood? What are the best ways to model regulatory systems? Attempts to answer such questions can have bearings on the way in which research is conducted. Fortunately there are recurring themes in regulatory processes from many different cellular contexts, which might provide useful guidance. Three principles seem to be almost universal: regulatory interactions are cooperative; regulatory decisions are made by large dynamic protein complexes; and regulation is intricately networked. A fourth principle, although not universal, is remarkably common: regulatory proteins are actively placed where they are needed. Here, I argue that the true nature of cell signalling and our perceptions of it are in a state of discord. This raises the question: Are our misconceptions detrimental to progress in biomedical science?

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cell Physiological Phenomena*
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways / physiology
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Models, Molecular
  • Multiprotein Complexes / chemistry
  • Multiprotein Complexes / metabolism
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Kinases / chemistry
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Protein Kinases