Advertisement

Cellular Semiotics And Signal Transduction

  • Luis Emilio Bruni

Abstract

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

Keywords

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 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Baldwin, Ian T; Halitschke, Rayko; Kessler, Andre; Schittko, Ursula (2001). Merging molecular and ecological approaches in plant-insect interactions. Current Opinion in Plant Biology, vol. 4, no. 4: 351–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barbieri, Marcello (2003). The Organic Codes. An Introduction to Semantic Biology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.Google Scholar
  3. Bateson, Gregory (1972). Steps to an Ecology of Mind. New York: Chandler Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  4. Bateson, Gregory (1979). Mind and Nature. A Necessary Unity. New York: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
  5. Bateson, Gregory and Mary Catherine Bateson (1987). Angels Fear. Towards an Epistemology of the Sacred. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  6. Berridge, Michael J.; Lipp, Peter and Bootman, Martin D. (2000). The Versatility and Universality of Calcium Signalling. Nature Reviews/Molecular Cell Biology, Volume 1, October 2000, pp. 11–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Berridge, Michael J.; Bootman, Martin D. and Roderick, H. Llewelyn (2003). Calcium Signaling: Dynamics, Homeostasis And Remodelling. Nature Reviews/Molecular Cell Biology, Volume 4, July 2003, pp. 517–529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bruni, Luis E. (2002). Does “quorum sensing” imply a new type of biological information? Sign Systems Studies, vol. 30.1: 221–243.Google Scholar
  9. Bruni, Luis E. (2003): A Sign-theoretic Approach to Biotechnology. Ph.D. Dissertation, Institute of Molecular Biology, University of Copenhagen.Google Scholar
  10. Carafoli, Ernesto (2003). The calcium-signalling saga: tap water and protein crystals. Nature/Molecular Cell Biology, Volume 4, April 2003, pp. 326–332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Emmeche, Claus (1994). The computational notion of life. Theoria-Segunda Epoca 9(21):1–30.Google Scholar
  12. Emmeche, Claus (1998). Defining life as a semiotic phenomenon. Cybernetics & Human Knowing, Vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 3–17.Google Scholar
  13. Emmeche, Claus (1999). The Sarkar challenge to biosemiotics: is there any information in a cell? Semiotica 127 - 1/4: 273–293.Google Scholar
  14. Emmeche, Claus and Jesper Hoffmeyer (1991). From Language to Nature: The Semiotic Metaphor in Biology. Semiotica 84(1/2): 1–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Heims, Steve J. (1991). The Cybernetics Group. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  16. Hofffmeyer, Jesper (1996). Signs of Meaning in the Universe. The Natural History of Signification. Blomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Hoffmeyer, Jesper (1997a). Biosemiotics: Towards a New Synthesis in Biology. European Journal for Semiotic Studies 9 (2): 355–376.Google Scholar
  18. Hoffmeyer, Jesper (1997b). Molecular Biology and Heredity. Semiotic Aspects. In: Uexküll Thure von (ed.) Psychosomatic Medicine. Munich: Urban & Schwarzenberg, pp. 43–50.Google Scholar
  19. Hoffmeyer, Jesper and Claus Emmeche (1991). Code-Duality and the Semiotics of Nature. In Anderson Myrdene; Merrell Floyd (eds.), On Semiotic Modelling. New York: Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 117–166.Google Scholar
  20. Lodish, H., A. Berk, S.L. Zipursky, P. Matsudaira, D. Baltimore and J. Darnell (2000). Molecular Cell Biology. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company.Google Scholar
  21. Sarkar, Sahotra (1996). Biological Information: a Skeptical Look at Some Central Dogmas of Molecular Biology. In: Sarkar Sahotra ed., The Philosophy and History of Molecular Biology: New Perspectives. The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp. 187–231.Google Scholar
  22. Sebeok, Thomas A. (1985/1976). Contributions to the Doctrine of Signs. Lanham: University Press of America.Google Scholar
  23. Shapiro, James A. (1999). Genome System Architecture and Natural Genetic Engineering in Evolution. In: Caporale, Lynn Helena (ed.), Molecular Strategies in Biological Evolution. New York: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (Vol. 870), pp. 23–35.Google Scholar
  24. Tomkins, G. M. (1975). The Metabolic Code. Science 189, pp. 760–763.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Stjerfelt, Frederik (1992). Categorial Perception as a General Prerequisite to the Formation of Signs. In: Thomas A. Seabeok and Jean Umiker-Sebeok, eds., Biosemiotics: The Semiotic Web 1991. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  26. Uexküll, Thure von; Geigges, Werner and Herrmann, Jörg M. (1993). Endosemiosis. Semiotica 96–1/2, pp. 5–51.Google Scholar
  27. Wilden, Anthony (1980/1972). System and Structure: Essays in Communication and Exchange. New York: Tavistock Publications.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© 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

Personalised recommendations