Transmembrane receptor

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Cell surface receptors (membrane receptors, transmembrane receptors) are specialized integral membrane proteins that take part in communication between the cell and the outside world. Extracellular signaling molecules (usually hormones, neurotransmitters, cytokines, growth factors or cell recognition molecules) attach to the receptor, triggering changes in the function of the cell. This process is called signal transduction: The binding initiates a chemical change on the intracellular side of the membrane. In this way the receptors play a unique and important role in cellular communications and signal transduction.

Contents

Structure and mechanism

Many transmembrane receptors are composed of two or more protein subunits which operate collectively and may dissociate when ligands bind, fall off, or at another stage of their "activation" cycles. They are often classified based on their molecular structure, or because the structure is unknown in any detail for all but a few receptors, based on their hypothesized (and sometimes experimentally verified) membrane topology. The polypeptide chains of the simplest are predicted to cross the lipid bilayer only once, while others cross as many as seven times (for example, the so-called G-protein coupled receptors).

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