Cell Communication

Cell Communication Red Blood Cells
Photo Credit: By Redbloodcells.jpg: hematologist derivative work: patient-doc (Redbloodcells.jpg), via Wikimedia Commons


By doing the activities in this lesson, you will gain a great understanding of the cell as part of a larger system or community. You will examine two types of cell communication—hormone and nerve signaling. In order to better understand the importance of effective cell-to-cell communication, you will examine various diseases in which faulty cell communication negatively impacts the entire community of cells and in effect, normal total body functioning.


To begin your exploration, go to Cell Communication: The Inside Story, from Scientific American. You should read the first three paragraphs and study the introductory illustration.

Once you've read the first three paragraphs, go to page 6 of the PDF and read "Getting a Line on Human Diseases."

As you are reading, you should think about answers to these questions:

  • How are the two cells in the illustration communicating with one another?
  • What are the messenger molecules? (e.g. hormones or neurotransmitters)
  • Why might one cell need to communicate with another cell?
  • How is our normal body functioning dependent upon cellular communication?
  • What can happen when cell communication breaks down?
  • What types of diseases occur as a result of a breakdown of cellular communication?

Now you will examine two diseases in which cellular communication has broken down. Multiple sclerosis is a disease that results in a lack of correct nerve impulse signaling. Diabetes is a disorder that results in a lack of correct hormonal signaling.

Use these resources to help you research multiple sclerosis and diabetes and answer the questions on the Diseases of Faulty Cell Communication student sheet.

Now use these resources to help you research things that disrupt cell communication and write your answers on the Factors that Disrupt Cell Communication student sheet:

Knowledge Check

Working with your group, research the impact of a genetic disease or external drug on cellular communication. You should use the Researching Cell Communication student sheet to help guide you in your research.

This esheet is a part of the Cell Communication lesson.

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