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Apr 13, 2018 - Science and innovations
FEFU researchers: cells of living organisms are able to transmit more than two bits of information

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Cells of living organisms are able to transmit more than two bits of information. Such data was received by Vladimir Katanaev, the researcher of the School of Biomedicine, Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU SBM), with colleagues from Switzerland on the results of experiments with the use of methods of bioinformatics and computer modelling. The study findings have been published in the international journal Nature Communications.

Vladimir Katanaev, the head of the Laboratory of Pharmacology of Natural Compounds, FEFU Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacy, explained why studying the connections between cells is relevant: “G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the target for a half of all current drugs. It is therefore fundamentally important to know the amount of information that a cell can reliably receive through these receptors.”

The researchers exposed cells to various concentrations of the chemical signal and recorded their reaction during the experiments. Data analysis and modelling have led to the conclusion that GPCRs are able to transmit at least two bits of information—much more than previously acknowledged.

“By using muscarinic receptor-induced calcium response measured in individual cells upon repeated stimulation, we show that GPCR signaling systems possess a significantly higher information capacity than previously thought,” explained Vladimir Katanaev. “We estimate the channel capacity of this signal transmission system to be above two bits. This means that a cell is capable of reliably distinguishing at least four concentration levels of the agonist [a chemical that triggers a receptor response].”