Cell receptor

From WikiMD's Wellness Encyclopedia

Cell Receptor

A cell receptor is a specialized protein that spans the cell membrane and communicates signals between the cell and its external environment. These signals can be in the form of chemical signals, including the binding of hormones, neurotransmitters, or antigens. The binding of these molecules to the cell receptor triggers a series of biochemical reactions within the cell that can alter its function or behavior.

Structure and Function[edit | edit source]

Cell receptors are typically composed of a series of amino acids that form a complex three-dimensional structure. This structure includes an extracellular domain that extends outside the cell, a transmembrane domain that spans the cell membrane, and an intracellular domain that extends into the cell. The extracellular domain is responsible for binding to the signaling molecule, while the intracellular domain initiates the intracellular response.

The function of a cell receptor depends on the type of signaling molecule it binds to. For example, hormone receptors bind to hormones and initiate a response that can alter the cell's metabolism, growth, or differentiation. Neurotransmitter receptors bind to neurotransmitters and can trigger an electrical response in neurons. Antigen receptors bind to antigens and initiate an immune response.

Types of Cell Receptors[edit | edit source]

There are several types of cell receptors, each with a specific function. These include:

  • G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs): These are the largest and most diverse group of membrane receptors in eukaryotes. They respond to a variety of signals, including light, odors, hormones, and neurotransmitters.
  • Ion channel receptors: These receptors form a pore through the cell membrane that allows ions to pass through in response to the binding of a signaling molecule.
  • Enzyme-linked receptors: These receptors have an enzymatic activity that is activated when a signaling molecule binds to the receptor.
  • Intracellular receptors: These receptors are located inside the cell and respond to signals that can cross the cell membrane, such as steroid hormones.

Clinical Significance[edit | edit source]

Cell receptors play a crucial role in many diseases and are often the target of therapeutic drugs. For example, many cancer drugs target specific cell receptors that are overexpressed in cancer cells. In addition, mutations in cell receptor genes can lead to diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.


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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD