Prof. Adrian Salic “How cells send and receive messages”
September 25 @ 4:00 pm
Prof. Adrian Salic
Harvard Medical School
Communication between cells is essential for all multicellular organisms, both during their embryonic development and in adult life. Cells send and receive signals continuously, thus responding to their environment and coordinating their behavior. Surprisingly, all communication between animal cells is carried out by a relatively small number of conserved signaling pathways (about 20), each consisting of an ordered chain of biochemical steps that link various extracellular inputs with specific cellular outputs, such as movement, secretion, division, growth or differentiation. The steps of a signaling pathway are carefully controlled, to avoid the negative consequences of abnormal activity: insufficient signaling usually leads to birth defects, and excessive signaling is implicated in cancer. While most of the biological molecules involved in cell-cell communication have already been identified through genetic analysis, how these molecules function to transmit signals remains poorly understood biochemically. I will present work from our lab aimed at dissecting the molecular mechanisms of two signaling pathways. I will also discuss implications for understanding disease and for strategies to block oncogenic signaling.