Hormones are secreted, reach their target, and bind to a receptor. The interaction of the hormone with the receptor produces an initial signal that, through a series of steps, results in the final hormone action. How does the binding of a hormone to a receptor result in a cellular action? For example, in times of stress, epinephrine is secreted by the adrenal glands, is bound by receptors in skeletal muscle, and results in the hydrolysis of glycogen and the secretion of glucose. Signal transduction is the series of steps and signals that links the receptor binding of epinephrine to the hydrolysis of glycogen. Signal transduction can be simple or complex. There can be only one or two steps between receptor and effect, or multiple steps. Common themes, however, are specificity of action and control: the hormone produces just the desired action and the action can be precisely regulated. The multiple steps that are involved in signal transduction pathway allows for precise regulation, modulation, and a wide dynamic range.
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