How do cells communicate with each other?
Cell biology is much more interesting than many people think. It can also provide answers to questions you don’t get in other disciplines, such as how cells communicate with each other. It’s not comparable to the way people do it. Since they cannot write or speak, they solve it differently. For example, it can happen and is mainly done with extracellular signaling molecules, which means communication between neighboring cells, but they can also create a connection between two distant cells in the body. The living organism is made up of billions of cells. It is essential that the cell can also grasp the information and be able to respond to it. Of course, like any organism, the cell itself emits signals. These are detected by receptor proteins found on the surface of the cells or in the cytoplasm, i.e., inside the cell. Their binding to receptors starts an intracellular signaling process, i.e., through several molecules, the signal is transmitted to certain parts of the cell where effector proteins are activated. Thus, by altering their structure, they alter certain functions of the cell, such as ion channel function, metabolic pathways, or gene expression. The effect of nearby cells on each other is called a paracrine effect, such as an immune response.
It also plays an important role in embryonic development, as well as in a process called embryonic induction, which is nothing more than the presence or absence of a signaling molecule produced by another pre-formed group of cells. As a result, the rate of division and shape of the cells of the induced cell group may change, and thus, in fact, the further fate of its cells. The signal-emitting and target cells are different in general, the autocrine effect is when the cell responds to the emitted signal. There is also a special case where cells that communicate with each other physically communicate with each other, such as the contact-dependent, foreign language, juxtracrine effect. Multicellular also use many different signaling molecules in communication. Multicellular organizations need to be able to coordinate the functioning of the body as a whole. In the first case, the effect is called endocrine, when the endocrine glands release hormones into the blood during communication. The second effect is neurocrine, in which case the presynaptic neuron passes the information directly to the receiving neuron during contact. It then receives a chemical signal from the sending neuron, which it converts into an electrical signal. These can be proteins, amino acids are steroids, but even gases such as nitric oxide or carbon monoxide. Cells can also receive signals from external factors such as light or heat or other cells.
More interestingly, according to a study by researchers at the Department of Medicine (UTMB) at the University of Texas, there was communication between mother and fetus. So, according to the study, maternal and fetal cells are constantly communicating with each other through a small structure called an exosome. Thanks to earlier research, we already know that fetal exonomies indicate to the mother’s body that the fetus is fully mature and ready to give birth, thus starting the birth process.
For more information about cell communication: https://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/cells/insidestory/
Information compiled by Dezső Sándor.