Cellular Semiotics And Signal Transduction

  • Luis Emilio Bruni


Semiosis, the processes of production, communication and interpretation of signs – coding and de-coding – takes place within and between organisms. The term “endosemiosis” refers to the processes of interpretation and sign transmission inside an organism (as opposed to “exosemiosis”, which refers to the processes of sign interpretation and transmission between organisms of the same or different species). In Biosemiotics it is customary to recognise the cell as the most elementary integration unit for semiosis. Therefore intra and intercellular communication constitute the departure point for the study of endosemiotics In contemporary molecular and cell biology, signal transduction research has remarkably contributed to a major paradigm shift in biology in which biology is now seen as a “science of sensing”. Once we recognise that sensing is one of the necessary properties of life, we cannot do without considering semiotic logic in order to construct our understanding of living phenomena. Given the central integrating role of signal transduction in physiological and ecological studies, this chapter outlines its semiotic implications.The multi-modality and modularity of signal molecules and relative “infrastructure” components poses one of the central problems for understanding metabolic codes: the occurrence of different instances of “cross-talk”, “redundancy” and “categorial sensing” at different hierarchical levels. The term “categorial sensing” captures very well the essence of the “outstanding question(s)” in signal transduction; i.e., how specificity is determined, how ubiquitous signals or messengers convey specific information, how undesired cross-talk is avoided, how redundancy integrates the system. This chapter proposes a basic conceptual toolbox for interpreting empirical data that deals with such puzzling phenomena from a biosemiotic perspective


cellular semiotics signal transduction cross talk ubiquitous signals sign-processes categorial sensing digital-analogical consensus specificity systems of correspondences emergent interpretant triadic logic biological information context hierarchy 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luis Emilio Bruni
    • 1
  1. 1.Department for Media Technology and Engineering ScienceAalborg UniversityLautrupvang 152750Denmark

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