How cells muster a coordinated response to their environment is discussed in a series of review articles published online this week in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. The special issue examines the cellular mechanisms for coordinating responses to signaling and how understanding these pathways is important in developing therapies for some diseases.
Cells must simultaneously integrate multiple signal pathways to regulate complex cellular responses to their environmental changes. Dysfunction of these pathways is often associated with diseases such as cancer, and thus these pathways form a major target for therapies.
Ivan Dikic and colleague examine how factors that respond to signals are altered by specific modifications. Meanwhile John Kuriyan covers how the context of signaling ― on the cell's membrane boundary ― affects activation of these pathways. Finally John Scott considers how some factors are scaffolded within the cell to give a coordinated response.
Together these pieces form a powerful argument for considering signal networks as a whole if we want to fully understand the pathways or develop therapies for diseases where such pathways are disrupted.