Pathways to Cancer: At the Cells Surface

A signaling pathway begins with the arrival of a chemical signal – such as a hormone or growth factor – at the cell surface. The gray structures sticking out of the cell membrane are receptors for these incoming signals. The signal, in this case a platelet-derived growth factor (here in purple and blue), encounters and binds to its matching receptor. A second receptor protein joins in, making the growth factor fit like a key in a lock. The binding of the growth factor causes the receptors to change shape. This change in the protein will be conducted through the membrane and into the cell's interior – the cytoplasm.