Cells need to decode chemical or physical signals from their environment in order to make decisions on their fate. In the case of signalling receptors, ligand binding triggers a cascade of chemical reactions but also the internalization of the activated receptors in the endocytic pathway. Here, we highlight recent studies revealing a new role of the endosomal network in signal processing. The diversity of entry pathways and endosomal compartments is exploited to regulate the kinetics of receptor trafficking, and interactions with specific signalling adaptors and effectors. By governing the spatio-temporal distribution of signalling molecules, the endosomal system functions analogously to a digital-analogue computer that regulates the specificity and robustness of the signalling response.
Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.