Cellular Communication: Definition, Diversity, Evolution, Types and Intercellular Communication

All organisms, whether single-celled or multicellular, need to respond to their ever-changing environment in order to survive and flourish.

Such responses are governed by the ability of cells to detect the physical changes and chemical signals that occur around them.

The process of detecting and responding to extrinsic signals is often called cellular communication, although scientists also use terms such as ” signal transduction ” or “signaling.”

Cells respond to a wide range of extrinsic signals including chemical messengers (eg, hormones, growth factors, neurotransmitters), electrical impulses, mechanical forces , pH, heat, and light.

Diversity and evolution of cell signaling pathways

Cellular communication encompasses a wide range of extrinsic signals, intracellular signaling pathways, and cellular responses. In fact, no two cell types express exactly the same repertoire of signaling components.

Rather, cells have signaling systems that are tailored to their physiological function. Cellular communication occurs when extrinsic stimuli bind to receptors on their target cells.

Although not all cellular communication depends on the activation of receptors, it is the most common mechanism by which cells perceive their environment or communicate with each other.

The term cellular communications is used to refer to different types of communication that occur between cells. Cellular communication gives cells permission to communicate with each other and perform bodily functions.

Intercellular communication

This form of communication refers to the exchange of information between cells in humans and animals. Example: synaptic transmission, hormone secretion through vesicular exocytosis, etc.

Cell communication occurs in three stages:


The target cell detects a signal when a signaling molecule, also called a ligand, binds to receptors on the cell surface.

These signal receptors are transmembrane proteins that can carry the ligand’s binding information from outside the cell into the interior, effecting a conformational change in its own three-dimensional structure, when a specific legend is attached to it.


After accepting the signal by the receptors, the process of responding to that signal begins and this process is known as transduction. The transduction process goes through a series of changes and at some point it is just one step.

Multi-step signal transduction includes the activation of one or more proteins downstream of the activated receptor.

Activation can occur by additional structural changes in proteins, by addition or removal of a phosphate group, or by the release of other small molecules or ions that can act as secondary messengers.

The release of ions or small molecules can also occur through the regulation of ion channels through the vesicular membranes.


The answer comes in the form of a reaction after the transmission of signals, these reactions will be in any type of cellular activity.

Different types of cellular communication

Cells communicate with each other through direct cell membrane contact or by releasing signal molecules into the bloodstream, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Cell signaling is often called intracellular communication. If a cell loses the ability to communicate with neighboring cells, it can become a cancer cell.

Juxtacrine signaling

When an inducer cell uses juxtacrine signaling to communicate with surrounding cells, proteins from the inducer cell interact with receptor proteins from nearby cells.

There are three different types of juxtacrine signaling. The first involves a protein from one cell that binds to a protein on a neighboring cell.

The second involves a receptor on one cell that binds to its ligand on the extracellular matrix secreted by a neighboring cell.

The third type of juxtacrine signaling involves a cell transmitting a signal directly through a conduit in its cytoplasm to the cytoplasm of a neighboring cell.

Paracrine signaling

With paracrine signaling, the inducer cell only communicates with cells located nearby. An example of this, according to scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, is the conduction of an electrical signal from a nerve cell to a muscle cell.

The signaling molecule in this paracrine signaling process is a neurotransmitter.

Autocrine signaling

Autocrine signaling occurs when a cell responds to its own signaling molecules that it produced at an earlier time. Some examples of this type of signaling include lipophilic and prostaglandins that bind to membrane receptors.

Endocrine signaling

Endocrine signaling occurs when cells release signaling molecules into the bloodstream that eventually reach the cell they are trying to communicate with.

The signaling molecules are generally released by the endocrine gland and travel to cells throughout the body. Some examples of hormones with signaling molecules are testosterone, progesterone, and thyroid.

These hormones help regulate transcription and depend on the presence of water-soluble molecules such as insulin, glucagons, histamine, and epinephrine.