Introducing PLOS Biology's "Research Matters"
- Anna Miska - Alvarez
- PLoS biology
As we become increasingly dependent on electronic information-processing systems at home and work, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that our very survival depends on highly complex biological information-processing systems. Each of the trillions of cells that form the human body has the ability to detect and respond to a wide range of stimuli and inputs, using an extraordinary set of signaling proteins to process this information and make decisions accordingly. Indeed, cells in all organisms rely on these signaling proteins to survive and proliferate in unpredictable and sometimes rapidly changing environments. But how exactly do these proteins relay information within cells, and how do they keep a multitude of incoming signals straight? Here, I describe recent efforts to understand the fidelity of information flow inside cells. This work is providing fundamental insight into how cells function. Additionally, it may lead to the design of novel antibiotics that disrupt the signaling of pathogenic bacteria or it could help to guide the treatment of cancer, which often involves information-processing gone awry inside human cells.