Control Mechanisms in Cellular Processes

Control Mechanisms in Cellular Processes

Control Mechanisms in Cellular Processes

Control Mechanisms in Cellular Processes

Excerpt

This volume on the control mechanisms in cellular processes consists of papers presented at the symposium of the Society of General Physiologists at its annual meeting in 1960. It will, we trust, prove useful as a report to the diverse mechanisms now known to act as regulatory systems.

Biologists have often felt that biochemists take a homogenized and quite unregulated view of cellular events. In fact, the feeling has been expressed that biochemists view cells simply as sacks full of enzymes. There is, of course, some truth in this statement; the elucidation of biochemical events has indeed required the use of cellfree material. Such investigations, however, have proved singularly rewarding; we now enjoy detailed knowledge of the precise mechanisms involved in energy transfer, in the biosynthetic processes concerned with the formation of substrate molecules, and in the synthesis of such macromolecules as enzymes and nucleic acids. We have come to an era in which fruitful consideration can be given not only to the integration of separate biochemical events but to the coordinate regulation of cellular biochemistry. In addition, consideration can now be given these subject areas, in part at least, at the molecular level.

Multicellular animals have characteristic developmental stages. Growth and development are intrinsic properties of biological systems; the biochemical characteristics of diverse differentiated cells are clearly different. Even in bacteria, biochemical differences have been noted at different stages in their growth cycle. These are biological facts which must be accounted for, and the answer presumably could in part be deduced from an understanding of the systems which regulate cellular biochemistry. What are the regulatory systems known at present?

A classic agent of cellular regulation is, of course, the gene. In the past decade magnificent work from many laboratories has given clear experimental proof that one action of genetic material is the . . .

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