Cell signaling: Is it all relative?  
Thursday, April 13, 2017 - 12:30pm
Icahn 101
Quantitative & Computational Biology

Cell signaling: Is it all relative?  

We sense our world in a relative manner.  For instance, we can hear a whisper in a quiet room, but we must shout in a rock concert.  I will present our lab’s finding that this is true, not only at the organismal level, but also at the cellular one: each cell in our body also processes signal relative to background.  Relative perception in cells is useful: (1) As a strategy to cope with variation; (2) As a framework that has led to new findings in our lab, such as signaling pathways as linear transmitters, allosteric proteins as logarithmic sensors, and a cis-regulatory feedforward circuit in the Wnt pathway.  These findings, along with increasing evidence in the field, suggest that sensing signal relative to background is emerging as a general principle that governs how animal cells work.   

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