Networking in adaptive cell communication: multi-tasking through simple tweaks

27 February 2009

Andre Levchenko
Whittaker Institute of Biomedical Engineering
Johns Hopkins University


Cell-cell communication through diffusive ligands is one of the main linkages uniting living cells into coordinately acting systems. Intracellular signaling pathways can contain a dazzling array of positive and negative feedbacks whose role is frequently not immediately clear. In this talk I will attempt to demonstrate, using two different 'simple' signaling systems as examples, how slightly tweaking a pathway structure can endow this pathway with diverse functionalities and allow the cells to use this pathway to pursue multiple response strategies, such as response diversification, precise and randomized partner search, coordination of responses and increased robustness of signaling. I will discuss evolutionary implications of these findings, also touching on the role of mathematical concepts in shaping our views of biological function.


current theory lunch schedule