Communication between cells is important in order to ensure that all cells are performing
their required functions. Cell to cell communication usually takes the form of a signal
transduction pathway. You can think of such a pathway as a row of dominoes, all
standing on their ends. Push one domino over, and the rest fall, due their direct or indirect
association with the first one you pushed over.
Some signals that cells send only work over a short distance. For example, in the
brain, neurotransmitters allow one neuron to excite its neighbor. The signal travels no
further. Other signals, however, do travel a further distance. Hormones, for example, are
secreted by a source organ and travel to target cells, equipped with specialized receptors,
in remote regions of the body.
Unfortunately, signal transduction might go awry. Because there are so many
players and so many steps in the process, it is easy to see how this might happen. Your
goal in completing this project is:
I. Gain background information by answering the following questions:
1. Briefly (and in easy to understand English) describe the methods of local and long
distance signaling in animals.
2. How can plants and animals affect neighboring cells directly?
3. List and explain the three stages of a signal transduction pathway.
4. What is a ligand, and what part does it play in signal transduction?
5. G protein linked receptors, tyrosine kinase receptors, and gated ion channels and
intracellular receptors are all used in the reception part of the signal transduction
pathway. In easy to understand language, choose one of these pathways and
explain how it works. You might want to wait to do this until you identify the
cause of the disease you will be studying.
6. What is a protein kinase?
7. How does a protein kinase cascade work? What does it do to the original signal?
8. What is the role of cyclic AMP or calcium ions in signal transduction?
9. What does a cell do when it receives a signal? Specifically, what kinds of cellular
processes are altered upon receipt of a signal?
II. Use the resources that accompany your book. You may want to utilize the
activities for Chapter 11 at THE BIOLOGY PLACE and other websites.
III. Investigate the particulars of a disease caused by faulty cell-to-cell
Because the response that a cell usually has to signaling is so important and
provides the means for so many other functions of the organism, you can imagine that a
failure to relay signals property could result in a multitude of diseases. You and your
partner will be assigned one disease. Using pictures, diagrams, and words, you will create
a poster that incorporates the elements in questions 1-9, as well as specific details about
the disease you’ve been assigned and how it is related to questions 1-9. In your poster,
you need to include both an explanation of proper intercellular communication, as well as
an explanation of how your disease deviates from that. For example, if your disease
involves faulty gated ion channels, be sure that your poster includes information about
correctly functioning gated ion channels too. I do not expect you to doing graduate level
work, but I do expect you to be able to explain, in your own words, the basics of the
pathway and the way in which failure of the pathway leads to disease.
You may choose one of these or find your own. Any topic other than those listed below
needs to be approved first.
Diabetes and Insulin Resistance Cystic Fibrosis Norrie disease
Multiple Sclerosis Kidney disease Alopecia
Ataxia Telangiectasia Alzheimer disease Tuberous Sclerosis
Parkinson’s disease Pancreatic Cancer Neurofibromatosis
Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) Werner syndrome
Heart disease – Congenital Heart disease or Cardiomyocyte hypertrophy
1. Use a “science fair type” of poster board. These are thicker than regular poster
board material. It is preferable that you find one that is divided into thirds.
2. All information must be typed. You must have a title in 240-point type. This is
equivalent to 4 inches. (You can always enlarge words on a copier or buy letters.)
All information must be broken down into logical sections. Each section should
have a title that is 84-point type or 1.5 inches. Use a font that is easy to read. The
text should be at least 16 points in size. (You can have more than one page per
section if necessary.)
3. Your names should be in the bottom right-hand corner in 60-point type.
4. You must have a list of your references. Use the correct MLA format.
This should be in the bottom left hand corner. References must be in 14-point
type and fit on an 8.5 X 11” piece of paper.
5. You must include at least 3 graphics. The minimum size is 8.5 X 11”, in order to
be easily seen. Required graphics are as follows:
a. A drawing of the chromosome showing the location of the affected gene.
b. A picture or drawing of a person with the genetic disease or a picture or
drawing of organs and/or tissues affected by the disease.
c. A picture or drawing of the type of cell signaling pathway(s) involved.
(A working pathway or a faulty pathway)
6. Breakdown/organization of information:
a. Introduction – a brief overview of cell-to-cell communication.
b. Specific Information – incorporating the elements in question 1 – 9.
c. General information about the disease – means of inheritance (Is it
autosomal or sex-linked? Is it a dominant or recessive trait?)
d. Cause of the disease – name the gene and chromosome number and
describe the mutation that causes the disease.
e. Symptoms – describe the symptoms of the disease and/ or the physical
characteristics of a person affected by the disease.
Here are some good places to start:
You can also use books and journals in the library to find information.