The Web of Life (7-2) Intercellular Communication

Intercellular Communication

All cells use information about the forces in their environments to direct decisions about migration, division, and cell fate. ~ American cytologist Douglas Robinson

Cells live by intelligence. This requires interactive communication.

There are ~200 different cell types in the 37.2 trillion cells in a human body. Most cells express dozens, or even hundreds, of distinct cell messenger molecules (ligands) and receptors – creating a highly-interconnected network of cell types which intercommunicate through multiple ligand-receptor pathways.

Cells speak only a handful of different molecular languages to work together to carry out an incredible diversity of tasks. These languages are sophisticated and have a large vocabulary. ~ American biologist Michael Elowitz

As a plant grows, each cell needs to know its place in relation to other cells. Cells communicate to create the patterns from which different tissues arise. Plants do so using small bits of RNA, which is a particularly rich information medium.

Unlike conventional development signals, small RNAs operate in a highly specific way, and they can intervene directly in gene activity. ~ German plant geneticist Marja Timmermans

Besides monitoring internal operations, cells constantly acquire information about their external environment. This information is critical to making informed decisions about processes essential to survival, growth, and reproduction.

Age mosaicism across multiple scales is a fundamental principle of adult tissue, cell, and protein complex organization.
~ American cytologist Martin Hetzer et al

Organs and cells comprise constituent components at different ages. Every organ is a mix of old and new cells. Every cell has novice and experienced proteins. The reason is educational: for youngsters to learn from their elders how the show is run.